WASHINGTON, D.C. — Few things cause quite so much commotion in the nation’s capital as the selection of a new Supreme Court Justice. This morning, President Joe Biden got word that he would be given that opportunity this year.
According to published reports, like the one from NPR below, Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the highest court in the country for nearly three decades, would retire at the end of the current term.
Breyer — professorial, practical, and moderately liberal — wrote many of the court’s legally important but less glamorous decisions and sought, behind the scenes, to build consensus for centrist decisions on a conservative court. (NPR)
Anybody that Biden nominates will need to be confirmed by the Senate, and Biden’s party holds the slimmest of majorities there. Even though the Constitution does not set the threshold for confirming a new justice higher than a simple majority, long-standing precedent has been for the minority party to attempt to force moderation in candidate selection by threatening to filibuster any nominee they don’t approve of.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, while his party was in the majority, famously blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of now-Attorney General Merrick Garland to replace the deceased former Justice Antonin Scalia. Then, McConnell broke the 60-vote threshold again three more times, each time installing a conservative justice.
Without moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski willing to help usher a Biden nominee through, Democrats would need every member of their caucus to support modifying the filibuster rules. Which is is something two Democrats are already showing signs they’re unwilling to do.
In a written statement from both Democratic Senators’ offices, Manchin and Sinema warn Democrats “not to ignore bipartisanship” and implore them to “only approve someone the Republicans want.”
An excerpt from the letter is reprinted below.
|Nobody loves and respects bipartisanship like Senators Manchin and Sinema. They are so committed to bipartisanship, in fact, that they refuse to cooperate with their own party, choosing instead to sabotage the agenda they were elected to enact.
To that end, the senators wish to strongly urge their Democrat colleagues to give their Republican caucusmates what they so richly deserve — whatever it is they want. Senator Sinema in particular thinks she knows exactly what black people need, and it’s for another white, religious nutbag to have a lifetime appointment to a position of enormous unelected power.
Senators Manchin and Sinema will work with any Republican to block the Democrats from doing what the Republicans have already done, on the basis that they might do it again, but more worser or something.
This story is developing.
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Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.