Sunday, February 5, 2017
Could Mitch McConnell's Gamble Come Back To Haunt Him?
While Democrats rightly insist that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court was stolen from Barack Obama and should do everything in their limited power to prevent Donald Trump from filling it, there is another, potentially more cumbersome problem that could gum up the works, and not for Democrats but for the GOP. Did Mitch McConnell, in his attempt to deprive Obama his pick, inadvertently screw his president?
At present, the Supreme Court is evenly split between four liberals and four conservatives. Merrick Garland, while certainly no right-wing ideologue, is nevertheless a conservative; or at least he's what used to pass for a conservative before the Tea Party took over the Republican Party. Had he been confirmed last year, the balance of the Court would've shifted to the right. Maybe not as far to the right as it was when Antonin Scalia was alive, but to the right nonetheless.
Why is that relevant? The Trump Administration's immigration ban is currently being litigated in the courts. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Justice Department's request to stay the Temporary Restraining Order on the ban issued by a federal judge in Seattle. The DOJ has until Monday to present a written argument for why the order should be reversed. Regardless of the outcome, the case will undoubtedly end up in the Supreme Court, and that's where McConnell's calculated risk could come back to bite him.
Should the 9th Circuit uphold the TRO and the Supreme Court winds up deadlocked at four, the lower court's decision would stand. Merrick Garland could've been that all-important fifth vote in favor of the Administration. In other words, by playing hardball (e.g., being a dick) dear old Mitch might very well be responsible for a "YUGE" Donald Trump defeat.
Funny how irony works. What looked like the political equivalent of a home run only a couple months ago, could well turn out to be a judicial strikeout. If Democrats can drag out the confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch a couple of months, they might end up having the last laugh on the Republicans.
Odds are Gorsuch will eventually become the next justice to sit on the Supreme Court, but he will arrive too late to be of assistance to the man who nominated him to the bench.