Senate Republicans, Do what Voters Elected You to Do | Opinion

The New York Times Sept. 21 morning update headline read: "Will the Senate Follow its Own Precedent?"

I certainly hope so.

Senate Republicans made a serious mistake back in 2016 when then-president Obama submitted Judge Merrick Garland to the Senate for approval. With Obama nearing the end of his second term, Republican senators cited the upcoming election as a reason to stall a confirmation vote. They argued the American people should have a right to decide in November who appointed the next Supreme Court Justice.

Now, four short years later, that faulty excuse is coming back to haunt them as Democrats repeat those exact words using the amplifier of the mainstream media and social media.

What Republicans should have said at the time, and what they should be saying now, is this:

We know there is an election coming up. We also know there were already elections over the past four years. In those elections you sent us here to do a job right up until the end of our terms. Our terms aren't over yet. We are still here to do our constituents' bidding. Let's get to work!

After his victory in 2008, Barack Obama had control of the House and the Senate. He ultimately lost control of both as Americans began to reject his policies. The Republican majority in the Senate was voted in precisely to oppose Obama. Blocking his nominee to the highest Court should not have been rationalized as deference to an upcoming election; it should have been unapologetically declared to be a service to the people who voted them into office.

They had an obligation to their constituents in 2016 to stop Obama's nominee and they have an obligation to their constituents today to put through President Trump's, period. No qualifier needed. No phony, pretentious excuses. Just do your job and confirm the candidate.

Mitch McConnell
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves after speaking to the media September 22, 2020 at Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

Historical precedent would agree. In fact, precedent dictates that voting, and approving, a nominee for the Supreme Court in an election year is actually routine, in particular when the Senate and the White House are controlled by the same political party. There have been 10 such instances and in eight of those the nominee was confirmed. Conversely, when the Senate and White House were controlled by different parties, as they were in 2016, six such nominations have been made but only two were confirmed.

Even Joe Biden agrees with following this precedent, or at least he did before recently not agreeing with it. Here is what Biden wrote back in 2016 regarding the Merrick Garland nomination and the Senate's obligation to act:

The president has the constitutional duty to nominate; the Senate has the constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent.... That's why I was so surprised and saddened to see Republican leaders tell President Obama and me that they would not even consider a Supreme Court nominee this year.... It is an unprecedented act of obstruction.

Speaking of precedent, the other complaint being leveled by Democrats is that the process from nomination to confirmation would be too rushed if it were to be completed before November 3. Not so fast. Precedent once again favors the Republicans. The average confirmation process takes 25 days of Senate action, with the late Justice Ginsburg's taking only 15 from the first Senate hearing to a final vote.

In one of the most uncertain election years in American history, Democrats are certain to leverage ballot harvesting and massive, unprecedented levels of mail-in voting because they believe it will deliver them victory, or because those tactics will so deeply mire the results in chaos and confusion that the decision will end up in the courts.

It's this last point which is perhaps the most critical reason to ensure there are nine justices on the Supreme Court come November 3. There is only one precedent-setting election—Bush v. Gore in 2000. Just imagine if Bush v. Gore had been further complicated by a 4-4 Supreme Court split. It would have led to bedlam. And in 2020, such a result would doubtless be even more explosive, and violent. Republicans must ensure there are nine Justices on the High Court to spare the nation a potentially catastrophic constitutional crisis.

I rarely agree with The New York Times, but this is one of the exceptions. I urge the Republicans in the U.S. Senate to follow precedent and confirm the president's choice for the Supreme Court.

You are still on the 2018 election clock. Your work isn't done.

Charlie Kirk is the author of The New York Times bestseller The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future and host of The Charlie Kirk Show.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

Senate Republicans, Do what Voters Elected You to Do | Opinion | Opinion