The Will To Judgement: Both Sides Are Pragmatic, Not Principled In The Nomination Battle
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A minimum of 35% and a maximum of 65% of Democrats say the GOP-controlled Senate should’ve considered Merrick Garland in 2016 but that the GOP-controlled Senate should not consider Amy Coney Barrett now. A minimum of 17% and a maximum of 40% of Republicans say the Senate was correct in not considering Obama’s nominee but that the Senate should consider Trump’s pick now:

Many people will perceive these roughly half of Democrats and one-third of Republicans as hypocrites. In charitable defense of the Democrats is the argument that the Republicans acted in bad faith first and so what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Additionally, Democrats can point out that while both Garland and Barrett will have been nominated “in an election year”—the implication being that since President Obama tried to rush his nomination, president Trump should be able to do the same—Garland’s election year had over nine months left in it when he was formally selected. Barrett’s will barely have three months left in hers. There was thrice as much time to consider Garland as there will be to consider Barrett.

In charitable defense of the Republicans, because they controlled the upper house then and they control it now, Democrats are demanding Republicans act against their own interests in both 2016 and 2020 while the Democrats are not required to correspondingly act against their own interests in either case. Additionally, Republicans can point out that the Constitution does not grant predominance to the Executive in the appointment of judges–the Senate is an equal partner. That is why historically when the Presidency and Senate have been split during an election year nomination the nominee doesn’t get through while he nearly always gets confirmed when the Presidency and Senate are in the same party’s control.

More cynical—or perspicacious, or both—people will recognize these things for what they are: attempts to gain power by whatever pretense is most useful for doing so in the moment. Losers care about principles; winners care about interest—their own and those of their supporters, that is.

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