"It was sure fun being a one-term Senator," said a bunch of faux-moderate GOPers https://t.co/ZJasCjnaqo
— Jonathan Singer (@jonathanhsinger) March 30, 2016
New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte is the “GOP moderate” given the lead in that NYTimes article, and the “tough” issue first mentioned as bringing her grief from her less-RWNJ constituents is her refusal to meet with Judge Merrick Garland. Mark Kirk of Illinois gets a mention, but he was smart or desperate enough to break with Mitch McConnell on the touchy topic of President Obama’s new SCOTUS pick. (Kirk even called his fellow Repubs “too close-minded”.) Perennial “Sensible Centrist” Susan Collins went even further, per Buzzfeed:
… Asked in a radio interview on Tuesday if she was “catching hell from her own party,” Collins said, “Not really. Obviously, the leader’s not real happy with me.”
“I’m sure there’s some people who are unhappy with me, but this is a solemn responsibility and is very important,” she continued, noting both sides have played politics in the past with contentious Supreme Court nominations.
Collins said she was “perplexed” by McConnell’s position given the possible outcomes of the presidential election…
Dahlia Lithwick, tongue firmly in cheek, suggests a workaround…
…Judge Garland has been nominated by President Obama. Senate Republicans refuse to give him a hearing. After a suitable period of time—lets say by the end of September of 2016—Judge Garland should simply suit up and take the vacant seat at the court. This would entail walking into the Supreme Court on the first Monday in October, donning an extra black robe, seating himself at the bench, sipping from the mighty silver milkshake cup before him, and looking like he belongs there, in the manner of George Costanza.
Really, what could the other justices do? They aren’t going to have the marshals tackle him. He is, after all, the chief judge of the second most important court in the land, respected across the ideological spectrum. And in the absence of a Senate hearing on his nomination, one certainly might infer that the Senate has by now consented to his presence there. (If you’re the law review type, here is a very plausible argument that this is actually the case.) But more urgently, this is the kind of action—OK, “stunt”—that would draw attention to the fact that just because GOP senators want to pretend that Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is invisible, doesn’t mean that he has to play along. By my playbook, Garland could show up for work in a black robe every day in October, participate in oral arguments with a handful of incisive questions in November, and even start to write a few modest opinions in December, demonstrating how real his nomination is. By January, nobody will even remember that he never got a hearing!
What I love best about what I am calling the Reverse Bartleby is that Judge Garland would be achieving two vital goals: First, he would be doing his job and highlighting that this is precisely what Senate tantrum throwers are refusing to do. But second, he would be out-absurding the absurd, and bravely standing up for a principle: that the constitution, as Robert Jackson famously suggested, contemplates an effective government. And unlike what’s being modeled by most Republican senators, that principle is not something as ignoble as “we’ll blow up the court before we let it shift to the other side,” which looks more like hostage-taking than taking a stand. The additional points being made would include that the court functions better with nine judges than with eight, that if Republicans refuse to hold hearings, well, someone should solve that, and that advise and consent doesn’t mean that the NRA or the Koch brothers get a veto…
Apart from applauding deliberately farcical action in defense of the Constitution and the rule of law, what’s on the agenda for another day in a week that already seems to have gone on too long?