The Corner

Politics & Policy

What Missed Opportunity?

Jonah Goldberg writes for The Dispatch that Republicans have missed out on their chance to exchange the opportunity to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court for a promise from Democrats that they will not pack the Court should they take back the White House and Senate in November. Ramesh Ponnuru has explained why such a deal does not make any practical sense for Republicans, while Alexandra DeSanctis and I have already taken issue with it on principle. Ponnuru has been vindicated as Democrats are already backing down on the court-packing question.

The question Goldberg poses in his piece is: “What happens when both parties embrace the doctrine of ‘do whatever you can get away with?’” I share Goldberg’s concerns about power worship in American politics, but a Republican president putting forward, and a Republican majority confirming an eminently qualified nominee is not the raw, in your face, exercise of power that Goldberg paints it as. And it’s certainly not comparable to court-packing in that regard.

The case against moving forward with a nomination is that Republicans are breaking the precedent they set by refusing to grand Merrick Garland so much as a hearing in 2016. Mitch McConnell has been consistent in arguing that Garland should not have been confirmed because the White House and Senate were controlled by opposite parties then. However, Goldberg notes that other Republicans, such as Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, have been openly hypocritical. Goldberg says that by not reaching a deal, party leaders have disregarded the “long-term good of the country.” I don’t understand how it is in the long-term interest of the country to hold off on confirming a justice who will interpret the Constitution as written. Especially if it is for the sake of bailing out the Democrats on their empty but still irresponsible threats and not making a liar out of Lindsey Graham.

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