Republican Senator Tells Elderly Supreme Court Justices to Immediately Resign So Trump Can Stack Court

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, makes crystal clear what the Republicans' ultimate agenda is. They'll put up with anything and everything from the occupier of the Oval Office to the end of remaking the entire federal judiciary, starting at the top. Grassley is calling for Supreme Court justices to retire immediately so they can get replacements made before the midterms elections.

“I just hope that if there is going to be a nominee, I hope it’s now or within two or three weeks, because we’ve got to get this done before the election,“ he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So my message to any one of the nine Supreme Court justices, if you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday.“ […]

Grassley said there can be between 50 to 70 days from when the president nominates somebody to getting a hearing in the judiciary committee. It will take another two weeks to get to the floor, he added.

“This has to be done before the November election,” Grassley said.

Grassley "clarified" his comments later with reporters. “I’m suggesting to them that if they’re the type of people that want Trump to replace them … that they ought to think about retiring yesterday. … Elections have consequences. We could end up without having a Republican Senate.” That would probably apply to two justices—Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. It's hard to see even Alito be willing to be replaced by Trump. It's certainly not going to be a compelling argument for Anthony Kennedy. And says a hell of a lot about Grassley.

That's salt in the Merrick Garland wound for Democrats.

“There is no principled stand. They will use whatever rationale they find expedient. There’s no conviction or principle to this. There’s no method to the madness,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

In the future when Republicans lose the Senate, he warned: “There will be a price to pay.” […]

“Giving a push of Supreme Court justices toward retirement raises some serious questions. And in light of what happened to Merrick Garland I think Republicans ought to think twice,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “It is a signal that they are worried about future control of the Senate in light of a Supreme Court vacancy.”

That's tough talk from Democrats, but thus far they've done little to make Republicans heed their warnings. Take the blue slip fight. Republicans just this week confirmed a circuit court nominee over the objections of home state senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Grassley held a confirmation hearing for another circuit court judge despite the opposition of both Oregon Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. But when a Democrat, Patrick Leahy, was in charge of the committee, he honored Republicans' objections. That's one of the reasons that there are so many vacancies in the federal judiciary now; while Democrats were in charge, they followed the norms despite having Republicans throw those norms in their faces and didn't get judges through.

Now that Republicans have destroyed another norm and gotten rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court justices, Democrats had better be willing to play hardball. They could do no better service to the nation than preventing a federal judiciary shaped by Trump.

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