A spokesman for McConnell pointed to comments made a month ago, when the GOP leader declined to speculate on how a Supreme Court nomination might be handled if Clinton wins.Greg Sargent makes the obvious point that McConnell has repeatedly said the next president should fill the seat:
Here’s McConnell saying this last March:Sargent provides another McConnell quote to the same effect, as well as a similar quote from a letter written by Republican members of the Judiciary Committee. There's no doubt about what these senators promised.
“I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president.... The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.”
Yet I'm not so sure about this:
Putting aside the substance of this dispute, there’s no way around this basic fact: If Clinton is elected president, the American people will have weighed in on the direction of the Court and will have exercised their will on this question -- by the lights of these Republican Senators themselves.Really? I don't know about that. I'm afraid McConnell and his colleagues might argue that Americans didn't decide they wanted Clinton to choose justices.
This denial of reality could take one of several forms: They might argue that there was widespread voter fraud. They might argue that the voters were voting against Donald Trump and not for Hillary Clinton, and therefore they weren't really voting to give Clinton the powers granted to her by the Constitution. They really might hit the latter argument hard if it was a close contest and enough votes were cast for minor-party candidates to deny Clinton a majority of the overall popular vote.
Or Republicans might not even bother to acknowledge or comment on their past promises. They'll hope that most Americans have forgotten what they said -- and they'll probably be right. But if they do feel compelled to comment, I expect them to argue, in one way or another, that Clinton is an illegitimate president. It's what Republicans always believe when a Democrat wins, so why not?