Partisanship as Usual

In his article about the Supreme Court nomination, Rabbi Avi Shafran writes that the refusal of Republicans senators to schedule a hearing for Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, is “a failure of congressional conscience.” He states that “no matter how lame a presidential duck may be, a sitting president has a right to nominate a candidate for a vacant Supreme Court seat; and the legislative branch, a responsibility to fairly consider him.”

I feel it is only fair for Hamodia readers to be aware that the Democrats are as guilty, if not more so, than Republicans of the exact same thing. When the Democrats insisted that Republicans schedule confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, the following came to light:

Democrat Joseph Biden, while serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992, delivered a speech that called for halting action on Supreme Court nominees in an election year. “Were there a vacancy,” Biden argued, Bush should “not name a nominee until after the November election is completed,” and if he did, “the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”

In 2007, New York Senator Chuck Schumer said that the Democratic majority should block any of President George Bush’s remaining Supreme Court nominations. He is quoted as saying, “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation … we should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances.”

But when the shoe is on the other foot, of course, Republicans become a convenient scapegoat and Democrats get a pass.

P. Orlander

Rabbi Shafran responds:

What Mr. Biden contended in 1992 was that it would be unwise for a president to nominate a Supreme Court justice in the heat of a contentious election. He did not declare that Congress has a right to refuse to consider a nominee. As you accurately quote him, Mr. Biden asserted that any nominee made by a president should be duly considered, just “after the political campaign season is over.” Which courtesy Judge Garland was unceremoniously denied.

In the end, though, I do not view this issue, or any issue, through partisan eyes. Whether Democrats are as guilty as Republicans of an unconscionable subterfuge is irrelevant. It remains an unconscionable subterfuge.