Patterico's Pontifications


Schumer: Republicans Stole a Supreme Court Seat in 2016 and Are Stealing One Now. Huh?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

Can someone explain the logic to me? I don’t get it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said the decision to consider a Trump pick ahead of this election means the Republican majority “will have stolen two Supreme Court seats four years apart using completely contradictory rationales.”

I’m at a loss as to how anyone could argue that they will have stolen both seats. If you agree with him, could you explain the logic?

If Republicans stole the seat in 2016, that’s because a president always has a right to a vote on his nominee, even in an election year, even when the Senate is held by the opposite party. How can anyone then say this seat will also have been stolen??

I understand the argument that Republicans are using different rationales. (Whether it’s true depends on the initial rationale they used. Lindsey Graham is using two different rationales because he is a hack. Sen. McConnell is using the same rationale: we do it because we can, and it’s the way it’s always been done.) But that’s a different argument from Schumer’s argument that both seats will have been “stolen.”

You can argue that the GOP Senators set up one standard and acted by it, and that they then set up another different standard years later and plan to act by that, and that it is all partisan and unprincipled and inconsistent and disgraceful. I totally understand the argument. For Graham, it’s right.

But how can you argue they will have stolen both seats? I genuinely don’t get it. Even if, as a Democrat, your own standard has shifted, don’t you have to acknowledge that the new standard you advocate was the right one in 2016 — especially since your new “always refuse confirmation in an election year” standard, if it applies now when the presidency and Senate are held by the same party, has to have applied with double force in 2016 when the Senate had an extra partisan reason to apply that standard?

I assume the simple answer is “Schumer is just being a hack” and I agree with that, but usually people have at least a theoretical argument behind their hackery. Here, I can’t even fathom what the theoretical argument is. I understand the Republicans’ shift: we do it because we can, and the Senate has generally behaved that way in the past. What’s the Democrats’ argument? “It’s a theft if the vote goes in a way we don’t like”??

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