ANOTHER BLOCKADE BACKER: Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina has pledged to support a blockade if Hillary Clinton is elected president and nominates a Supreme Court justice to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, according to CNN. With his remarks, he echoed recent statements by Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Ted Cruz of Texas.
In audio obtained by CNN, the North Carolinian predicted that Obama nominee Judge Merrick Garland would not get confirmed in the upcoming lame-duck session of the Senate. Burr added, “And if Hillary Clinton becomes president, I am going to do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.” Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron declared last week about the threats raised by McCain and Cruz: “the Republican blueprint for a Hillary Clinton presidency is to obstruct and blockade the confirmations of Supreme Court nominees” (see Gavel Grab).
A different Republican view on the Senate’s failing to take up Garland’s nomination was offered by Senate candidate Wendy Long in a debate with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, according to The Albany Times Union. Long contended “that senators acted efficiently by not engaging in the ‘charade’ of holding hearings on a nominee they weren’t going to certify,” the newspaper said.
END THE SUPREME COURT NOMINATION FILIBUSTER? If Clinton wins and Democrats take the Senate, the Democrats may move to eliminate the filibuster of Supreme Court nominations, several analysts said. The New Republic explored different rules changes that might be considered. It quoted Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, a leader on rules reform, as saying he hopes no rules change is needed, but “To refuse to debate someone at all, and just say a position should be left open, that is a constitutional crisis.”
At The Hill, Richard Arenberg said eliminating the filibuster would provide “a prescription for insuring a Supreme Court beset by the lamentable hyper-partisan polarization that is at the root of current congressional dysfunction.” Jeff Shesol wrote in The New Yorker that Republican lawmakers are “raising the prospect of preventing a President Clinton from making any appointments at all” and he discussed “instant currency” for an idea mentioned by some Republicans that eight or fewer justices can do the job. Kyle Sammin, meanwhile, delved into history to write a piece for The Federalist that was headlined, “Congress Has Refused To Confirm Supreme Court Justices Before, And Can Do It Again.”
JUSTICE THOMAS AFTER 25 YEARS: In one of the latest articles about Justice Clarence Thomas’s quarter century on the Supreme Court, The Washington Post reported, “For 25 years, it has been Clarence Thomas v. Controversy.”