Bench Memos

Senate Republican Leaders to Meet Obama

Tomorrow morning Senate Republican leaders will meet with President Obama and his advisers to discuss filling Justice Scalia’s seat at the Supreme Court. They should deliver the following message to the President on behalf of the American people: We will defend the Constitution, no matter what.

As the New York Times recognized this week, President Obama has had a testy relationship with the Constitution. The Supreme Court has brushed back the Administration repeatedly, smacking down Administration power grabs in numerous 9-0 decisions. The people sent the same message in 2014 by electing a Republican Senate. And now, with a key Supreme Court vacancy up for grabs, the Senate is the last remaining backstop against Obama’s subversion of the Supreme Court itself.

Senate Republicans have been admirably unified on this point. They’ve presented a largely united front against the Democrats’ hypocrisy and denial about precedents they created for halting Supreme Court nominations during election years. Both in 1992 and again in 2007, Democrats proclaimed that no more Supreme Court vacancies would be filled until after the election. Now, of course, the President and his allies dismiss all of those prior statements as meaningless and call their opponents “racist.”

During the meeting, these leaders should tell the President that they will not be complicit in his attempts to turn the judiciary into a rubber-stamp of Executive branch policies. They should tell him that they will not allow him to replace a principled jurist like Antonin Scalia with a left-wing activist pretending to be a “moderate.”  

And they should tell Obama that they are going to fight by the same rules that Democrats have been using for the last 30 years.

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