The Slatest

McConnell Says He’d Confirm an Election-Year Trump Supreme Court Nominee Because He’s a Republican and Obama Wasn’t

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Republican Senators speaks to the press at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 14, 2019.
The McConnell Rules.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky Tuesday that he would confirm a Trump Supreme Court nominee if a seat on the bench opened up next year during the presidential election. The galling hypocrisy of the very man who once reinvented the Constitution to prevent President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from ascending to the Supreme Court, would be even more enraging if it weren’t so utterly predictable.

It was, of course, just over three years ago, in March 2016 that Obama nominated Garland to replace Antonin Scalia following his death. The Republican-controlled Senate, under McConnell’s leadership, refused to even hold a hearing on the nomination, much less a vote, because McConnell concocted the idea that the next president should get to choose the Supreme Court justice. McConnell’s rationale went that it was an election year and… a Republican might win and that would be better for Republicans if they picked Scalia’s successor? In sum, there wasn’t a good faith rationale for McConnell’s stonewalling. Even still, Garland’s nomination languished for 293 days until the term ended on Jan. 3, 2017.

On Tuesday however, when McConnell was asked by an attendee “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?” the Majority Leader was signing a different tune. From CNN:

The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, “Oh, we’d fill it,” triggering loud laughter from the audience.

So what gives? Anything other than the obvious?

“David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said the difference between now and three years ago, when McConnell famously blocked Judge Merrick Garland’s ascension to the Supreme Court, is that at that time the White House was controlled by Democrat and the Senate by a Republican,” CNN reports. “This time, both are controlled by the GOP.”

Oh right. Just the obvious then.