Fox vs Fox: GOP Supreme Court Obstruction Edition

Following threats by Senate Republicans that any Supreme Court nominee named by President Obama would not be considered for nomination, Fox News personalities have shown disagreement over the strategy, with some arguing Republicans want Obama to “ignore the Constitution” while others have described any fair hearing given to a potential nominee as “caving” to the president.

Republicans Vow To Block Consideration Of Any Obama Nominee To Replace Antonin Scalia

NY Times: Senate GOP “Close Ranks Behind A Vow By Senator Mitch McConnell ... To Block Consideration Of Any Nominee To Replace Justice Antonin Scalia.” A February 16 article in The New York Times reported on Republican senators pledging to block consideration of Supreme Court nominees by President Obama:

Senate Republicans on Monday began to close ranks behind a vow by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to block consideration of any nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over the weekend, for the remainder of President Obama's term.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, who faces re-election this year, said in a statement that the Senate should follow what he called “common practice” to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term. Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, agreed, leaving nearly every vulnerable Republican incumbent backing Mr. McConnell's pledge. [The New York Times2/15/16]

Fox Personalities Blast The GOP Pledge To Obstruct Obama's Supreme Court Nominees

Neil Cavuto: “I Have A Hard Time Understanding Not Even Allowing A Vote” On A Supreme Court Nominee. During the February 16 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto criticized the idea  that  “Republicans would just punt on even holding hearings,” and said “I have a hard time understanding not even allowing a vote or waiting until, you know, a new president”:

NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): I do wonder, professor, about why Republicans would just punt on even holding hearings. They hold a significant majority in the Senate, so they can argue that if they don't like the president's choice, they could reject it, the president's choice. You need 60 votes. So why add the drama of not even holding hearings?

LARRY SABATO: Well, I think the message that Senator McConnell, the majority leader, was trying to send immediately was that there is very little chance that anyone nominated by President Obama would be approved by a majority of the U.S. Senate. They don't -- it doesn't have to be a filibuster, it could potentially be a straight up or down vote. But there are 54 Republicans, even if you had a couple of defections, you might not in this case, there's virtually no chance that that would actually happen. This is going to be a campaign issue on both sides. It probably will increase voter turnout on both sides. And it's elevated to the court to one of the two or three major issues along with terrorism and the economy.

CAVUTO: You know it's interesting. I guess the process normally takes on average about 67 days I read, from a nominee being submitted to the final vote in the Senate, yea or nay. And it's happened before, Ronald Reagan. The third time was the charm for him. But I guess I have a hard time -- I know the frustration on the part of Republicans, but I have a hard time understanding not even allowing a vote or waiting until, you know, a new president. Because that's still almost a year off. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto2/16/16]

Eric Bolling: “Republicans Are Making A Mistake Saying That They Won't Hear Any Supreme Court Nominee.” During the February 16 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling argued “Republicans are making a mistake saying that they won't hear any Supreme Court nominee,” urging Republicans to “Let President Obama nominate and then take your time and do what you have to do”:

ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): First of all, I heard President Obama say early on, the first question he was answering, he said, “The Constitution is clear.” And I think he was referring to Republicans, saying they're suddenly reading into it. Well, coming from a guy who's done nothing for the last seven years than read into the words of the Constitution. You think of it, the Commerce Clause with Obamacare, you think of the executive order on immigration, you think of the drone program, closing Gitmo. He went around Congress and the Constitution on all of those, so that was kind of weird. I also noticed -- now, I've been, I said yesterday I think that the Republicans are making a mistake saying that they won't hear any Supreme Court nominee, just shut it down right now. I think that's not the way you go forward. Let President Obama nominate, and then take your time and do what you got to do. That's the way it is written, that's the way you should do it. [Fox News, The Five2/16/16]

Greta Van Susteren: Republicans Obstructing Obama's Supreme Court Nomination“Want Him To Ignore The Const[itution].” On February 16, Fox host Greta Van Susteren tweeted “R's have said Pres violates the Constitution w/ exec orders and now they want him to ignore the const that says he SHALL nominate”:   

[Twitter, 2/16/16]

Peter Johnson Jr.: “Republicans Have To Recalibrate Immediately, When You Make A Mistake, Say You Make A Mistake.” During the February 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox analyst Peter Johnson Jr. criticized Republicans pledging to block President Obama's Supreme Court nominations, arguing “I think the Republicans have to re-calibrate immediately,” and added “It's not good for our governance [...] We need a Supreme Court with nine folks on it. It's that simple”:

TUCKER CARLSON (CO-HOST): I think there're very few Republicans who want to see President Obama in his eighth year in office fill the ninth seat of the Supreme Court. The question is, as a tactical matter was it wise for the Senate majority leader to say we're not even going to consider a nominee?

PETER JOHNSON JR.: No, I think the Republicans have to recalibrate immediately. When you make a mistake, say you make a mistake. Part of the reason the outsiders are doing so well is that they're disgusted with the Congress of the United States. Democrats and Republicans. And if you were a Republican leader to say we're not going to count any nomination, any person that the president puts up, that's a problem. They're going to have a countdown and a clock as to the intransigence of the United States Senate going forward.

CARLSON: So you're saying it would be wiser just to take a look at the nominees and then evaluate them and then turn them down if you don't like them?

JOHNSON JR.: It is what I'm saying. In order to be true to conservative principles, in order to be true to the Constitution, in order to be true to the memory of Justice Scalia, then you say yes, Mr. President, send who you want to send over. We're going to take a look at that man or woman, whoever you send, and we're going to make a determination. Because you obviously have decided in spite of precedent, most precedent, you say in an election year that you want to force the issue. Fine. If you want to force the issue, then you will force the issue, and we in due time, just as you in due time making a nomination, will decide whether to consent to that nomination of a United States Supreme Court justice.

CARLSON: So they wouldn't have to confirm the nominees.

JOHNSON JR.: The Republicans need to step it back at this point and say, listen, we're going to grieve for Justice Scalia at this point, then we're going to make a determination about where we are. There's no line in the sand. My concern is, A. conservative principles, B. the Constitution and also the future of a two-party system. Where will the Republican party be two or three years from now when it is remembered that the Republican party said we would not -- we would not even look at a nominee for the United States Supreme Court? It's not smart. It's not good for our future. It's not good for our governance, and it's not good for the notion that this government is responsive to the needs of the people. We need a Supreme Court with nine folks on it. It's that simple. They need to step it back today. [Fox News, Fox & Friends2/16/16]

Greta Van Susteren: “Why Not At Least Have A Hearing?” During the February 16 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, host Greta Van Susteren asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) “Why not at least have a hearing, and you can reject the nominee?”:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (HOST): President Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Kennedy in the last year of his presidency and that was -- then he was confirmed to the Supreme Court. I mean, I know that the Republicans say “Well, the Democrats did it this way, so now we are going to do it this way.” Why not at least have a hearing, and you can reject the nominee? [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren2/16/16]

Andrea Tantaros: “They Should Hear Who His Nominee Is, He Does Have That Right.” During the February 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Andrea Tantaros claimed that “President Obama doesn't want Republicans to follow the rules that he created,” but “I think that they should hear who his nominee is, he does have that right”:

ANDREA TANTAROS: The most important thing that jumped out to me is that he a hypocrite. He talked about this obstruction, but when President Obama was a senator in 2005, he voted to filibuster Samuel Alito. He also voted against John Roberts, even though he said that he was imminently qualified, Eric. He said it was just because of his politics that he couldn't do it. So now President Obama doesn't want Republicans to follow the rules that he created. So it's highly hypocritical, I do agree with you though, Eric. I think that they should hear who his nominee is, he does have that right. Hear who it is, but I think McConnell needs to stand up and do what the Republican party elected him and put him into power to do, and that is say, “All right, you like a filibuster so much, President Obama? We'll give you a filibuster.” Sixty votes, and he'll never get it. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor2/16/16]

But Other Fox Hosts Demand Republicans “Hold The Line” And Block Obama's Supreme Court Nominees

George Will: It Is “Within The Constitution” For Senate To Refuse To Hold Hearings On Obama's Supreme Court Appointments. During the February 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, frequent Fox contributor George Will argued that it is “within the constitution” to “refuse to hold hearings” or “send it to the floor where Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule a vote”:

GEORGE WILL: Clearly, the president proposes, equally clearly the Senate disposes, and there are four ways they can dispose of an Obama nominee, which I think he's right, he has a duty to send up. He can send it to the senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Iowa Senator Grassley, can refuse to hold hearings. Or second, they can hold hearings and vote the nominee down, or third they can send it to the floor where Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule a vote, or he can schedule a vote and defeat it. All those are within the Constitution, as Elizabeth Warren surely understands. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier2/15/16]

Charles Krauthammer: “Republicans Have To Be United On the Fact That They Will Not Accept An Obama Nominee One Way Or The Other.” During the February 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer encouraged Republicans to “be absolutely united on the fact that they will not accept an Obama nomination one way or another”:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: This is all -- it's nothing but raw power. The future of the court is at stake, the future of the Scalia legacy is at stake. Whatever the effects on the election, however much the Democrats play the obstructionism charge, it pales in comparison with what would happen if Scalia were replaced by say another Elena Kagan.

BRET BAIER (HOST): Right, but to David's point, it's one thing if they vote them down, the nominee, but it's another thing if they refuse to do the hearing.

KRAUTHAMMER: This is a tactical decision. I think this is the moment of his life, for Mitch McConnell. He's the ultimate Senate technician, he knows the rules, he knows how to get around things. This is purely a decision, a political decision, how best to turn this guy down or a girl down, whoever it is. And it could go one way or the other. But that's nothing but tactics. In the end the Republicans have to be absolutely united on the fact that they will not accept an Obama nominee one way or the other. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier2/15/16]

Andrew Napolitano: “I Hope The Republicans Stand Firm In Not Caving” To Nomination Of Scalia's Successor. During the February 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said both he and the court “don't buy” the idea that it's necessary to quickly replace Justice Scalia. Napolitano then urged Senate Republicans to “stand firm” against Obama's nominee to fill the empty seat:

TUCKER CARLSON (CO-HOST): Well, the president's moving forward with the process to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia. The decision could come as early as this week. The Senate has said they're not going to take up any nominees. Scalia was known as fiercely conservative and a forceful defender of the Constitution. How will his death affect cases that are now pending before the court? We bring in Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano.


CARLSON:  Interesting. So your prediction, bottom line, Democrats say the republic will collapse if a ninth justice is not appointed. You don't buy that?

NAPOLITANO: No, I don't buy it. The court doesn't buy it. And I hope the Republicans stand firm in not caving to it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends2/16/16]

Sean Hannity: “I'd Like To Believe” That The Republican Party “Will Hold The Line” And Not Take A Vote On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee. During the February 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannityin an interview with presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), said, “I'd like to believe” that the Republican Party “will hold the line” on President Obama's appointment of Scalia's successor. He later claimed, “And that's why I am of the belief, like we haven't done in 80 years, we shouldn't do this now in an election year”:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Do you suspect that your party will hold the line on this very important issue? Because I'd like to believe they would.

TED CRUZ: Well, I certainly hope so. You know, no one should be surprised to see Chuck Schumer and the Democrats being hypocritical. That has been their pattern. But in the last -- it has been 80 years since the Senate has confirmed a Supreme Court justice nominated during an election year, and we shouldn't suddenly start now. The court is exquisitely divided. Justice Scalia was a lion of the court, of the Constitution. He's someone I knew for 20 years, and he was an extraordinary jurist. And the entire balance of power on the court hangs in the balance here. I believe we should make 2016 a referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court. Let the voters decide. If the Democrats want to fill the vacancy, they need to win in November.


HANNITY: I agree this is a critical issue. And that's why I am of the belief, like we haven't done in 80 years, we shouldn't do now in an election year. [Fox News, Hannity2/15/16]