SUPREME COURT VACANCY: Another Republican senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, has suggested the GOP might block any Supreme Court nominee selected by a Democratic president to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, The Associated Press reported. Following on the heels of a similar statement by Sen. John McCain (see Gavel Grab), when asked about high court vacancies, Cruz said on Wednesday:
“There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue, there is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices, just recently Justice (Stephen) Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”
Responded Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid in a fundraising email, “Ted Cruz and John McCain may have given away the Republican game plan on the Supreme Court,” and he warned of a potential constitutional crisis. In The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse portrayed McCain’s remarks about a possible GOP blockade of any Hillary Clinton nominee to the court as rupturing political norms in a “corrosive” election year, and she raised concerns about a potential threat to the rule of law.
Related news coverage and commentary included Lou Dubose in Newsweek, “Why McCain Wants to Leave the Supreme Court Hanging”; Cristian Farias at Huffington Post, “This Could Be The Beginning Of The End Of The Supreme Court As We Know It”; The Washington Post, “‘Eight is not a good number’: Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor address the New York City Bar Association”; The Associated Press, “[Justice Clarence] Thomas criticizes broken confirmation process for high court”; The Washington Post, Cruz says there’s precedent for keeping ninth Supreme Court seat empty”; and Constitution Daily, “Is the Supreme Court filibuster in play in 2017?”
MONEY IN STATE COURT ELECTIONS: “As President Obama took the extraordinary step of endorsing a candidate for a state supreme court race this week, spending by outside groups on television ads in all such contests hit a record high nationwide,” the Brennan Center for Justice reported on Wednesday. Initial coverage included Esquire, “Electing Judges Continues to be a Terrible Idea”; and a USA Today editorial, “Justice for sale — Our view.”