For 18 months, Senate Republicans have conspired with the Trump White House to pack federal courts with radical right-wing judges. They’ve run roughshod over Senate traditions meant to ensure a mainstream judiciary that will follow precedent and adjudicate cases fairly.
Now, facing a second Trump Supreme Court nominee, Republicans want to overturn their own standard, set in 2016, that a nominee shouldn’t be considered during an election year.
While the decision to block Merrick Garland is the most egregious example, Republicans have delayed or denied Democratic presidents their nominees to fill federal judgeships for decades.
During the final two years of the Clinton administration, more than 60 judicial nominees were blocked by Republicans. During the first five years of the Obama administration, GOP senators filibustered 36 judicial nominees, as many as had been filibustered in the previous 42 years. President Barrack Obama confirmed the lowest percentage of district and circuit court judges among two-term presidents since 1945.
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Stealing the Garland seat, however, represents the pinnacle of Republican obstruction. With the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court further restricted voting rights, undermined worker rights, and upheld the discriminatory Muslim travel ban.
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement could shift the court even further to the right, threatening a woman’s freedom to control her own body, the right of LGBT Americans to marry, and access to health care for millions with pre-existing conditions.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., objected to an Obama nominee nine months before an election. Today, we’re only four months from an election. If Americans deserved to have their voices heard then, they deserve to have them heard now.
With so much at stake, action on any Supreme Court nominee should wait until after the American people vote in November. It’s the right thing to do.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member.