What a difference four years makes

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created a controversy about who will nominate her successor, and when.

Four years ago, when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly on Feb. 13, 2016, then President Barack Obama, who had nearly 10 months left in his term before the next election, proposed Judge Merrick Garland to replace him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a hearing on the nomination, insisting the next president should pick the next justice. And so President Donald Trump was elected, and his nomination, and he nominated Neil Gorsuch, whom the Senate Republicans confirmed.

Four years later, Justice Ginsburg died 47 days before the election. Trump is set to nominate a new justice before her funeral, and he expects the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election. McConnell is eager and willing to deliver.

If, in 2016, we could wait 10 months to see who would win the election and nominate a justice, we should be able to wait another month or so to see who wins the 2020 election.

As McConnell said in 2016, and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said this week, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

McConnell thinks this is an entirely different set of circumstances. Well, it’s not, except for the political fact that a Republican president wants to appoint the next justice.


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