If anyone knows about “hypocrisy,” it’s Chuck Schumer.
With Wednesday’s news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is stepping down after 30 years of service, and giving President Donald Trump a second chance to appoint a constitutional conservative to the high court, Democrats are sending up a nationwide wail that the process should be put off until after the midterm elections.
But they don’t have a leg to stand on, thanks to the very rules they instituted during their years in power during the Obama administration.
In a statement on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Minority Leader Schumer, a New York Democrat, had the audacity to demand the Senate hold off on confirming any new Trump Supreme Court nominee until after Americans go to the polls in November.
Schumer cited Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s crucial decision in 2016 to refuse to consider any nominee named by then-President Barack Obama to fill the high court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of that year.
“Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president’s nominee and their voices deserve to be heard,” Schumer said, according to The Hill.
“Anything but that would be the height of hypocrisy.”
Actually, it wouldn’t be anything of the kind.
What McConnell did – and for which conservatives should be eternally grateful – is to refuse to conduct Supreme Court nomination hearings in a presidential election year – and in the final year of a president’s second term, no less.
No matter who won the election in 2016, there was going to be a new president in 2017, and McConnell argued that Americans should have a chance to select who that president was going to be before allowing such a momentous decision to go forward.
The situation is not even close to the same now. The upcoming elections are midterms, not presidential. And it’s the second year of an administration, not the eighth.
What Schumer is arguing – which his fellow Democrats and no doubt sympathetic media talking heads will parrot – is that midterm elections, the choice of confirmation votes, is the same as the presidency.
It’s not. Schumer knows it’s not, and so does the rest of his party. (And if they don’t remember, there are plenty of Twitter users who will help them.)
Justice Elana Kagan was nominated/confirmed in 2010, the 1st midterm election year of the O presidency. That’s because in 2008 the people voted for a D President and a D Senate. In 2016, the people voted for a R POTUS & Senate. That’s why the vote should take place this Fall.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) June 27, 2018
But Schumer’s hypocrisy doesn’t stop there.
It was the Democrats’ own thirst for unbridled power during their heyday in the Obama administration that brought the party to the situation it’s in now, with a president they despise about to appoint a Supreme Court nominee who is all but certain to be approved by the Republican Party in power.
If Democrats under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid had not changed the rules of the Senate to destroy the filibuster in 2013 for all but Supreme Court nominations, they would not be in the fix they are today.
They didn’t care then. They thought they had a Senate Democrat majority that would last forever, with a Democrat in the White House to boot.
And that Democrat in the White House wanted to get rid of the filibusters to his appointments, too.
"This gridlock has not served the cause of justice … It's undermined it." —President Obama, supporting filibuster reform in the Senate
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 22, 2013
That set the stage for McConnell’s move last year to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations and enable the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
In other words, when Democrats thought they had a lock on power, they changed the rules to make that power absolute. It didn’t work out that way, of course. A January 2017 report in the generally liberal The Atlantic gives a nice preview of where that was going to lead in the Trump administration.
Now, those rules changes are coming back to double-cross them. Where a minority party used to have the power to rein in the majority under the old filibuster rules, the Democrats are essentially powerless. They have only themselves to blame.
And Chuck Schumer, who publicly supported every one of the changes, who was literally standing at Reid’s side when he announced them, is crying that Republicans are guilty of the “height of hypocrisy” for playing by the rules Democrats made.
Not surprisingly, he told The Atlantic writer he regrets that the Dems went as far as they did. Sure he does — now.
If anyone knows about hypocrisy, it’s Chuck Schumer.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.