So much for Mitch McConnell's “principles.”In 2016, the Senate Majority Leader successfully blocked President Obama from appointing Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia as a Supreme Court justice.His stated reasoning? Since Obama was in the final year of his presidency, voters should get to decide. “The decision the Senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle, and not a person,” McConnell said on the Senate floor in 2016.
Three years later and with Trump in the White House — surprise! — McConnell has no principles, unless they serve his purpose. He says he’d have absolutely no problem confirming nominee by President Trump in 2020, even on the eve of an election.“Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?” McConnell was asked by a participant at a Chamber of Commerce event in Paducah, Kentucky Tuesday.McConnell took a big sip out of a plastic cup, filled with what looked like iced tea, smiled, and answered, “Oh, we’d fill it.” The crowd broke out in laughter.“Everything else changes,” McConnell told his audience. “What can’t be undone is a lifetime appointment to a young man or woman who believes in the quaint notion that the job of the judge is to follow the rule of law.”“That’s the most important thing we’ve done for the country,” he added.In 2016, when a vacancy opened up on the Supreme Court after the death of Scalia, McConnell ran out the clock by holding up the nomination for 10 months. Now that the roles are reversed, though, McConnell shows it’s not principles, it’s politics.Once Trump took office, he was quick to nominate Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom have been confirmed and have tilted the high court conservative.
And yet as they did in 2016, Democrats called him out on it, as if he had principles. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called McConnell a “hypocrite.” Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted that McConnell’s “shamelessness at stealing a Supreme Court seat is appalling.”
McConnell has made judicial appointments a central component of his legacy. Under his leadership, the Senate has changed rules to make it easier for judges to be confirmed. Earlier this month, Senate Republicans hit a milestone: They confirmed their 100th judge since President Donald Trump’s election.Cover: FILE - In this April 9, 2019 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington. McConnell's reelection campaign is capitalizing on a fellow Republican's attack, selling "Cocaine Mitch" shirts on his campaign's website. The shirts appear to have been hot sellers. The Kentucky Republican's campaign Twitter account said Wednesday, May 8 that McConnell was closing in on one of his biggest fund-raising days of the year and thanked people who chipped in by purchasing shirts. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)