Federal Courts and Nominations

OP-ED: When judging Mitch McConnell, don’t forget about Merrick Garland

While I appreciate that, from time to time, George F. Will has used his conservative voice to push back against Trumpism, Mr. Will’s credulous lionization of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ignored Mr. McConnell’s facilitation of President Trump’s rise. Mr. McConnell’s blockade of the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court from even getting a hearing, much less a Senate vote, was unprecedented in U.S. history. Neither then-Vice President Joe Biden nor Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was responsible for that. If this precedent has a name at all, it can only be called “the McConnell rule.” Meanwhile, then-President Barack Obama did not pack by enlargement — or in any other way — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with judges. He simply appointed qualified nominees to fill then-existing vacancies, nominees that Mr. McConnell obstructed wholesale until Democrats changed the rules to overcome Mr. McConnell’s harmful, purely political scheme. Is Mr. McConnell a canny tactician? No question. Has his tenure as majority leader been a stain on the Senate while helping set America on our current Trumpist path? Absolutely.

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