The wall of Republican opposition to the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court has been shored up by two Republican senators revoking their support for holding confirmation hearings....A few days ago, I said that the obstruction strategy seemed to be working if only a handful of Republican senators were deigning to meet with the nominee and fewer still were willing to go as far as hearings. In comments, I was told that I had it all wrong -- "As the pressure object takes a step backward, pressure mounts, not declines," one of you wrote. Well, maybe. But Republicans zealots are much more, um, zealous than Democratic zealots. So I'm not the least bit surprised that Moran and Murkowski have been brought into line with Correct Thinking.
As the White House heralds the growing number of Republicans agreeing to meet with Judge Garland, Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have reversed themselves and say they now back the decision made by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, not to hold hearings....
Their announcements leave just two Republicans who openly support holding hearings and even voting on Judge Garland’s nomination: Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois....
Republicans who have broken from party leaders have suffered blowback from conservative groups. Mr. Moran weathered particularly brutal attacks, with some threatening to back a last-minute primary challenger against him in his re-election bid.
(As Barney Frank once said of Republicans in Congress, "Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann." Substitute Dave Brat for Bachmann and that's still true.)
Moran's recantation, in particular, makes it clear that Republicans will probably obstruct any appointee by President Hillary Clinton if they hold the Senate next year:
“Senator Moran called Senator Grassley to discuss his position,” said a statement released by Mr. Moran’s office on Friday. “As Senator Moran has said, he is opposed to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. He has examined Judge Garland’s record and didn’t need hearings to conclude that the nominee’s judicial philosophy, disregard for Second Amendment rights and sympathy for federal government bureaucracy make Garland unacceptable to serve on the Supreme Court.”"Second Amendment rights"? Yup. I don't think we've spent nearly enough time discussing the fact that Mitch McConnell, apparently speaking on behalf of the entire Republican Senate delegation, gave Supreme Court veto power to the NRA.
In response to a question from host Chris Wallace, who asked if Senate Republicans would consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the election if Hillary Clinton prevails, McConnell responded that he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”McConnell's making this sound as if it applies only to the last year of Obama's term, but why wouldn't it hold next year as well? Did Republicans conclude that Barack Obama had a mandate to govern in 2009 or 2013? Why will they think Hillary has one in 2017?
If we want a nine-justice Supreme Court, we need either a Republican president or a Democratic Senate. I think even a Democratic Senate would eventually approve a Republican president's pick. I simply don't believe a Republican Senate will ever approve the pick of a Democrat.