Following the announcement by President Barack Obama that he would nominate a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, right-wing media quickly urged Senate Republicans to “hold the line,” “stand firm” and not “cav[e] in” to Obama's nomination.
Obama To Nominate Successor To Late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Washington Post: President Obama “Vows To Nominate Supreme Court Replacement” Following Death of Justice Scalia. A February 13 Washington Post article reported that “President Obama vowed Saturday to 'fulfill my constitutional responsibilities' to nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and challenged Congress to grant his choice a fair confirmation hearing.” President Obama announced his plans after it was reported that Justice Scalia “died of natural causes at 79 on Saturday.” [The Washington Post, 2/13/16]
Right-Wing Media Urge Senate Republicans To Block Obama's Nomination
Fox's 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, 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 Baier, 2/15/16]
Fox's 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 Scalia. Napolitano then urged Senate Republicans to “stand firm” against Obama's nominee to fill the empty seat:
TUCKER CARLSON (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 & Friends, 2/16/16]
Sean Hannity: “I'd Like To Believe” That The Republican Party “Will Hold The Line.” During the February 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity, in an interview with presidential candidate Ted Cruz, 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, Hannity, 2/15/16]
Washington Examiner: “Stand Firm Against Obama's Court Packing, GOP.” A February 16 Washington Examiner editorial titled “Stand firm against Obama's court packing, GOP” argued that “Republicans violate neither the Constitution nor precedent by blocking Obama's nominee,” but rather, they are taking “a political risk, but that's what politics is about.” The editorial also claimed that “if the public dislikes Republicans blocking an Obama nominee ... they can vote them out in the next election”:
Democrats are crying foul, even crying racism, because Senate Republicans say they will not confirm President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday. Some are hyperventilating about “constitutional crisis.”
Nonsense. Republicans have the Constitution, history, pragmatism and democracy on their side. Obama and the Democrats have only chutzpah.
If the public dislikes Republicans blocking an Obama nominee, and we're sure Democrats will make as much of it as possible, they can vote them out in the next election. That's the constitutional way to resolve this non-crisis.
Republicans violate neither the Constitution nor precedent by blocking Obama's nominee. They take a political risk, but that's what politics is about.
Ultimately, voters will pass judgment on senators' actions. Scalia, who strongly believed elections are better arbiters of society's values than courts are, would probably approve that his replacement is worked out this way. [Washington Examiner, 2/16/16]
National Review: “The Senate Should Refuse to Confirm Any Obama Nominee to Succeed Justice Scalia.” A February 15 National Review article urged Republican senators and presidential candidates to “reject the claim that they have an obligation to fill Justice Scalia's vacancy before the election.” The article also claimed that “Republicans can honor Antonin Scalia by preventing his seat from being filled by a president who has so disregarded the constitutional text that the late justice did so much to restore”:
Republican senators and the presidential candidates should reject the claim that they have an obligation to fill Justice Scalia's vacancy before the election. Senator Harry Reid, for example, declared that “it would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat.” He continued: “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential constitutional responsibilities.” Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded that the next president should fill the vacancy.
If President Obama were truly worried about the Court and the Constitution, he would seek to nominate a consensus nominee who would prove difficult for a Republican Senate to delay. Some have suggested lower-court judges who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, but with little known about their constitutional views. He could even nominate his vice president, Joe Biden, who might survive confirmation because of his long service in the Senate.
But President Obama has never given a sign that he considers the Constitution anything other than an obstacle to overcome on his way to a progressive paradise. He swept aside the Constitution's limits on federal power to pass Obamacare, and he ignored his constitutional duty to enforce the laws when he unilaterally rewrote U.S. immigration policy. If the last seven years are any indication, Obama will probably choose political confrontation. He may choose a nominee for his or her political implications, such as identification as a minority, in order to use a Senate delay as a political issue in the presidential campaign. The Senate should refuse to confirm anyone, to protect the Constitution from yet another Obama attack on its fundamental purpose and structure. Senate Republicans can honor Antonin Scalia by preventing his seat from being filled by a president who has so disregarded the constitutional text that the late justice did so much to restore. [National Review, 2/15/16]
Townhall.com: "Senate GOP Can And Should Prevent Obama From Replacing Scalia." In a February 15 Townhall.com article, frequent Fox guest Guy Benson claimed that “Republicans are right to fight to the mat on this, and they must not buckle” on confirming President Obama's nominee (emphasis original):
The news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death cut like a dagger on Saturday, as admirers and adversaries alike were stunned by the sudden loss of a legal giant. Virtually everyone acknowledges his brilliance, his influence, and his impact on the Court. Virtually everyone sympathizes with his grieving family and loved ones. And virtually everyone began to consider the enormous consequences of his passing almost immediately: A High Court split 4-4. A vacancy that could alter SCOTUS' ideological composition for a generation. A divisive, lame duck president in his final year in office. A Republican-held Congress. A high-stakes, high-drama presidential election cycle well underway. What could, and should, come next? Senate Republicans appear to be foreclosing the possibility of confirming any nominee President Obama may put forward, hinting that they'll also do what is necessary to prevent the outgoing chief executive from making a temporary recess appointment -- which the White House says he won't do. Republicans are right to fight to the mat on this, and they must not buckle. Democrats and their media allies are already applying urgent, growing pressure on the GOP majority to consider and approve Obama's inevitable nominee -- who may very well be someone who's celebrated as “historic,” based on the Left's identity politics rubric, in order to make sustained opposition as painful as possible. [Townhall.com, 2/15/16]
Wall Street Journal: Senate Republicans “Are Right To Say That The Senate Should Refuse To Consider Any Nominee This Year.” A February 15 Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that conservatives “would revolt if Republican Senators voted to confirm” essentially any Obama appointee, claiming that “progressives have made the Court so political that it's understandable that Republicans want to let the next President fill Justice Scalia's vacancy.” The editorial boosted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, who are leading the opposition to President Obama's nomination, claiming they “are right to say that the Senate should refuse to consider any nominee this year”:
With the death of Antonin Scalia, Democrats and the media are graciously offering Republicans an ultimatum: Give them control of the Supreme Court now, or they'll use the vacancy as a political club to hold the White House and retake the Senate. False choices don't get more false than that.
The reality is that no one President Obama is likely to nominate for the Court this year has a chance to be confirmed in a GOP Senate. Republicans could vote for José Cabranes of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, but he's 75 years old and too independent-minded for Democrats. Conservatives would revolt if Republican Senators voted to confirm any other Obama appointee.
The larger point is that progressives have made the Court so political that it's understandable that Republicans want to let the next President fill Justice Scalia's vacancy. A GOP Senator who voted to confirm an Obama nominee would demoralize his own supporters. Meanwhile, the outrage among Democrats over being denied a vote is entirely synthetic as they use the issue to mobilize their own partisans. (See Chuck Schumer nearby.)
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley are right to say that the Senate should refuse to consider any nominee this year. An election-year hearing and vote would only politicize the Court more and be unfair to the nominee.
So ignore any complaints you read about “unprecedented” GOP “obstruction.” As Justice Scalia warned (our Sunday editorial on his legacy can be found on wsj.com), legal progressives made the Court a partisan cause by making value judgments that are best left for voters to decide. One result is that Democrats will have to fight and win an election in 2016 to replace the greatest contemporary Justice. [Wall Street Journal, 2/15/16]