Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggested Monday that the Republican party’s months-long refusal to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court could extend into the next administration if Hillary Clinton is elected president.McCain subsequently revised his remarks. However, it wasn't much of a revision:
"I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up," McCain said on WPHT Philadelphia radio in an interview first flagged by CNN. "I promise you. This is where we need the majority.”
McCain's office walked his remarks back hours later, saying he would vote for individual nominees based on their record and experience.Translation: Sure, Republicans will consider Hillary's nominees, but they're certain to be so left-wing and radical that our only choice will be to reject them.
"Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees," communications director Rachael Dean told TPM in a statement. "That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career."
Even before this year, I never thought a Republican Senate would approve a Supreme Court pick from President Obama -- I'm certain he'd have been stonewalled in 2015 the way he was this year, with a different excuse substituting for "It's an election year" -- and I don't expect things will be any better for Hillary Clinton if the GOP holds the Senate, because Republican will assume she's coming into office unliked and with no mandate. I don't any Republicans to vote for any Clinton Supreme Court pick, ever.
I just hope a Democratic Senate majority will be enough to get her picks approved. I'm sure Democrats will need to abolish the filibuster for the High Court in order to get any pick past the Republicans -- but even then I assume the Republicans will try to humiliate Clinton with a defeat. Remember, a lot of red-state Democratic senators will be up for reelection in 2018, including the two most conservative, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. I assume the Republicans will run a ton of "call your senator" ads in the home states of Manchin and Heitkamp, pointing out that Clinton's appointee -- whoever it is, and whatever that person's record might be -- is shockingly "extreme" on guns or LGBT right or acknowledging that climate change exists (war on fossil fuels!).
It might not work, but the GOP will do it anyway. Obstructionism thrills the Republican base almost as much as a Trump speech, and it makes moderate voters just give up on politics altogether. It's an excellent way for the GOP to get ready for the midterms.
And remember, the Republican base literally believes that the next Democratic Supreme Court justice will abolish Christianity in America and mandate total gun confiscation. If a justice is approved, every incumbent Republican senator is at risk of a primary challenge. So they're not going to go down without a vicious fight.