Breyer denies McConnell’s plan to refuse a Biden Supreme Court appointment

Breyer denies McConnell’s plan to refuse a Biden Supreme Court appointment
Mitch McConnell/Shutterstock

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will be stepping down at the end of the current Supreme Court term in June or July. Which has to be a blow to Mitch McConnell, who has been harboring nefarious plots for making sure President Joe Biden never had the opportunity to seat a Supreme Court justice.

Those plans weren’t even secret. McConnell baldly stated last summer that he was “highly unlikely” to allow Biden to fill a vacancy in 2024, should the Senate revert to Republican control in these midterms. He added that he might just refuse to hold hearings in 2023 as well, should a vacancy come up.

“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled. So I think it’s highly unlikely,” McConnell told Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview back in Jun. 2021. That’s McConnell’s further twisting of the supposed Senate precedent that the Senate shouldn’t confirm a justice case to a presidential election.

He had to add that qualifier of “Senate of the opposite party” to his supposed “rule” because he spearheaded seating Trump’s pick of Amy Coney Barrett on the court while actual early voting in the 2020 presidential election was happening. But to prove that there was no principle involved in his intentions at all, he added “Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens” if a vacancy occurred in 2023—fully a year before the presidential election.

As recently as last month, five Republican senators—all on the Senate Judiciary Committee—told CNN they would oppose any nominee from Biden. Period. “You know what the rule is on that,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the committee. “You go back to 1886 and ever since then, when the Senate’s been of one party and the president’s been of another party, you didn’t confirm.” Which absolutely never has been a rule. Like that would stop Republicans.

Because Republicans nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court justices, they don’t get to have a say this year. That is unless they can get Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on their side again. It’s entirely possible that those two will figure that they’ve already burned the bridge with Democrats and Biden part way, so they might as well finish the job, but that’s probably not likely. Particularly considering they’ve already voted to confirm one of the leading contenders for Breyer’s replacement, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the nation’s second-highest court, the D.C. Circuit. That probably gives her a leg up in the process, that and that she’s a kick-ass choice and a former clerk for Breyer.

The White House more or less confirmed Wednesday that the nominee will fulfill President Biden’s promise in the 2020 campaign to nominate a Black woman to the court.

Jackson isn’t the only contender, though she might have the edge as having so recently been confirmed with bipartisan support just seven months ago. Not just Manchin and Sinema voted for her, but also Republicans Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Lisa Murkowski.

Politico reports that Breyer informed President Biden of his intention last week. The official announcement from Breyer could come as soon as Thursday- according to CNN.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted a statement promising “a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee” for the eventual nominee, and that they would “be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.” Reuters reports that a source says Senate Democrats “intend to confirm a Biden Supreme Court nominee on the same timeframe as the one-month timetable used by Republicans to appoint Justice Barrett.”

And Mitch McConnell and his band of saboteurs can’t do a damned thing about it.

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