The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has set off a no-holds-barred political knife fight in DC and around the US. The media spent the weekend largely throwing Republicans’ words in their faces from 2016 when a Republican-led Senate refused to vote to confirm Merrick Garland, nominated by President Obama.
Chuck Todd on Meet The Depressed led the charge and spent a full segment browbeating the #3 Republican in the US Senate, John Barasso, over his 2016 comments.
In fairness, Republicans are clearly being hypocritical on this issue and probably no one more than Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsay Graham.
.@LindseyGrahamSC in 2018:
“I’ll tell you this…if an opening comes in the last year of president Trump's term and the primary process has started we'll wait to the next election.” pic.twitter.com/AUZ3AeHDPD
— Sarah Longwell (@SarahLongwell25) September 19, 2020
However, Democrats are full of the exact same (yet opposite) hypocrisy, and the media has largely been silent about it, at least in relative terms.
Biden thought that in 2016, Garland should be given a floor vote in an election year.
Even Ginsberg herself felt that filling a SCOTUS seat in an election year was OK.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being the president in his last year,” Ginsburg told the New York Times in 2016 when she urged the Senate to do “their job” and consider President Obama’s court nominee Merrick Garland.
Pelosi, Schumer, and every other Democrat in Congress have a wall full of tweets and comments in 2016 pushing for the exact thing that they now abhor.
Attn GOP: Senate has confirmed 17 #SCOTUS justices in presidential election years. #DoYourJob pic.twitter.com/Mdm0P5SRC4
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 23, 2016
The absolute bottom line is that this is about politics and nothing else, and neither side including the mainstream press should pretend any different. It’s clear that Donald Trump will nominate someone as Obama did in 2016, and if (big if) Republicans can get the votes in the Senate (either before or after election day), they’re going to try to confirm that nominee. Full stop.
What it means for Mississippi
We have a US Senate race that has largely been devoid from a lot of action. COVID, early reliable polls saying that the race wasn’t particularly close and competitive races with the Senate in balance has left the Mississippi race as a bit of an afterthought. Democrat Mike Espy looks like he’s going to get fueled by a lot of outside money and out raise incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith down the home stretch, so it will likely tighten some.
Trump has said he will nominate a woman to replace Ginsberg. Speculation has largely centered around Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa (who was confirmed to the 11th circuit 80-15 less than a year ago). The mainstream media has already started on the attack.
In an election cycle that has largely been a referendum on Trump, who is still way up in the polls in Mississippi, the SCOTUS pick has the real potential to get the conversation back to “elephants and donkeys”. While Trump seems to be down in the electoral math today, this confirmation fight will definitely put Senators and Senate candidates on some tough decisions.
The toughest decision that may get driven is that Espy will have to make commitments to keep his out of state funding spigot flowing by opposing a woman, and possibly a woman of color, for a SCOTUS confirmation.
Although the TV and print press establishment in Mississippi will move heaven and earth to defend him and help him obfuscate, that’s going to be a really tough spot for him to have to politically fight against a female nominee.
Buckle your chinstraps, sports fans. It’s about to get real interesting.