February 13, 2016: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement released after Scalia’s death. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
February 23, 2016: “I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that’s underway right now” McConnell told reporters [although there was no election underway in February] . . . 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.”
May 28, 2019: An attendee at a Chamber of Commerce event in Kentucky asks McConnell, “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?” “Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell replied, grinning.
September 18, 2020: “President Txxxx’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement on Friday evening [without even waiting until the next day].
We know how unique the president is and that Senator McConnell’s only motivation is power. Are there four Republican senators who will choose to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memory, if only for their own selfish reasons? I doubt it.
David Frum, however, a conservative anti-Txxxx commentator, doesn’t think this is a done deal. He suggests that:
(1) Some Republican senators behind in the polls may see this as an opportunity to look independent and win re-election. Others may have a reason (personal honor, a previous strongly-stated position) not to go along with McConnell.
(2) It may be difficult to find a nominee, given how much criticism they’ll receive, especially if they aren’t guaranteed approval in the Senate.
(3) Nominating a replacement before the election will mobilize even more anti-Txxxx voters, so it would be in the president’s interest to wait.
(4) The conservative legal establishment may resist in order to minimize the chance that a Democratic Congress will make much-needed, pro-democracy reforms to the Supreme Court.
Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times discusses some of the same considerations and concludes:
If Republicans force a justice on us, it’s because they believe that standards are for suckers, and people who hold power need not be constrained by any pledge or institutional tradition.
According to Ginsburg’s granddaughter, the justice made a dying wish: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
It doesn’t matter how exhausted we are, or how difficult the odds. In this hell-spawned year, we can either give up, or give everything we can to stop some of America’s worst men from blotting out the legacy of one of our very best women.