Republicans argue that President Obama’s re-election in 2012 doesn’t count when it comes to granting him the authority to nominate a Supreme Court judge in his final year in office. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) goes a step further and says voters granted the GOP the authority to obstruct Obama’s nominee by giving them control of the Senate in 2014.
One of the primary arguments the Republicans have made in justifying their obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee — Judge Merrick Garland — is that the American people should get a voice in the matter.
The strange logic goes something like this: Because the nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice is so consequential (i.e. Garland would tip the balance of the court because he would be filling the seat of the late Antonin Scalia, arguably the Court’s most conservative member), the American people should decide, with their vote for the next president, who gets should fill Scalia’s slot.
Thus, the Republicans are essentially saying the American people weren’t capable of making that decision in 2012 by re-electing Barack Obama.
Regardless, here’s how Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) put it in February. “We’re only eight months before an election where the American people are going to decide the direction of the country,” he said. “Why not let the American people also decide the direction of the Supreme Court?”
But Johnson — who is facing a tough re-election campaign against former Senator Russ Feingold — turned that logic upside down during an interview with Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate this weekend. When the interviewer wondered whether the GOP’s tactics merely amounted to simple obstructionism, Johnson shot back, saying that the American people had elected them in 2014 to be obstructionists:
JOHNSON: No. I’m doing my job. My job is advice and consent. Withholding consent is part of that equation as well. So we’re a co-equal branch of government and by the way, the American people spoke in 2014, most recently, by giving the Republicans a majority of the Senate which is the other co-equal branch of in this nomination, confirmation process.
So American voters weren’t actually granting Obama the authority to nominate a Supreme Court nominee by re-electing him in 2012, but they were granting Republicans the power to block it by giving them control of the Senate in 2014? Got it.