Mitch McConnell’s decision not to permit confirmation proceedings for Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 is an open, oozing, and painful wound from which Democrats have not emotionally recovered.

McConnell just poured salt in that wound.

McConnell just announced, with a smile on his face, that if there were a Trump nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy in the 2020 election year, the Republican controlled Senate would confirm that nominee.

This should not have come as a shock. Last fall we reported how McConnell opens up possibility Senate would confirm Trump SCOTUS nominee in 2020.

The media and Democrat reaction is that McConnell has reversed his 2016 position on Supreme Court nominees in presidential election years.

CNN reports it that way, In reversal from 2016, McConnell says he would fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy in 2020:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs during next year’s presidential election, he would work to confirm a nominee appointed by President Donald Trump.

That’s a move that is in sharp contrast to his decision to block President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

At the time, he cited the right of the voters in the presidential election to decide whether a Democrat or a Republican would fill that opening, a move that infuriated Democrats.

Speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky, McConnell was asked by an attendee, “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?”

The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, “Oh, we’d fill it,” triggering loud laughter from the audience.

The reaction from the right has been like, You Go Girl! (tweets via Twitchy)

But on the left, it’s pure fury focused on McConnell’s alleged hypocrisy as to Garland:

A rational analysis, however, shows that McConnell has been consistent that the no-confirmation in presidential year was in the circumstance that there was a party split between the presidency and the Senate:

McConnell said this on March 1, 2016: “you’d have to go back to 1888 when Grover Cleveland was in the WH to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential year was confirmed by the party opposite the occupant of the WH. So this vacancy will not be filled this year.”

McConnell made a similar distinction in October 2018:

What I’m telling you is the history is you have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a Senate controlled by a party different from the president filled a vacancy on the Supreme Court that was created in the middle of a presidential election year. That’s been the history.

Charles Cooke has more at National Review, McConnell Hasn’t Reversed Himself:

The Washington Post joins a host of media outlets this morning in contending that Mitch McConnell has “reversed” his position on considering Supreme Court appointments in presidential election years. McConnell said last night that he would “fill” any Supreme Court vacancy that arose next year. This, apparently, is “hypocritical” given his refusal to acquiesce to the nomination of Merrick Garland back in 2016.

Trouble is, McConnell has not actually reversed his position, which was not that Supreme Court vacancies should always be left open in presidential election years, but that vacancies should be left open in presidential election years when the president is of a different party than the majority in Senate. McConnell also argued that his position was justified because Obama was a “lame duck.”

So Mitch has been consistent.

But I’m not sure it would work. McConnell still needs 50 votes (plus Pence as tie breaker) to prevail on a floor vote. He’d probably lose several Republicans in such a situation — and he can’t afford to lose more than 3 of them.

So there may be an impediment to McConnell confirming a Trump SCOTUS nominee in 2020, and that impediment would be Senate Republicans.

 
 
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