Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee ignored their own quorum rules — and the deeply held principles they pretended to care about in 2016 — and advanced Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination this morning. The conservative jurist is now slated for a final confirmation vote on Monday — literally just eight days before Election Day 2020.
But as part of this morning’s proceedings, Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) thought it’d be a good idea to deliver a little speech about how convinced he is that Republicans “did the right thing” by engaging in this obvious and ongoing abuse.
The South Carolinian began his remarks by reflecting on the events of 2013, when he and other GOP senators — in the minority at the time — refused to consider any nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, regardless of merit or qualification, because the president was a Democrat.
Senate Democrats responded by restoring majority rule to the process, and Graham this morning insisted that Republicans were the victim of what transpired. Reality makes clear he has this backwards.
The committee chairman proceeded to brag about voting for both of then-President Obama’s first two Supreme Court nominees, conveniently skipping past his treatment of Obama’s third.
All of which led to these comments:
“Now we find ourselves in a situation where qualifications no longer matter. It’s about holding open seats to have them filled after the next election, and we’ve lost sight that the individuals being nominated matter. I think they do matter.”
Graham then went back to patting himself on the back for a job well done.
To be sure, in a sea of political hypocrisy, Graham already stood out for his brazenness and nihilism. It was, after all, four years ago when the South Carolinian participated in a 10-month blockade against a high-court nominee, insisting that he couldn’t tolerate a confirmation process during an election season.
“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said at the time. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
Two years later, Graham further committed to doing the right thing. “I will tell you this: If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election,” the GOP senator publicly declared. For emphasis he added, “Hold the tape.”
We held the tape. It’s why we know Graham broke his word and abandoned his public commitment.
But there he was this morning, atop his high horse, whining incessantly about those who’d dare try to hold open vacant Supreme Court seats until after an election, despite the fact that he insisted on holding open a vacant Supreme Court seat until after an election.
“Now we find ourselves in a situation where qualifications no longer matter”? Really? Perhaps the senator can remind the nation whether Judge Merrick Garland’s qualifications mattered.
“We’ve lost sight that the individuals being nominated matter”? Oh? Are we to believe that Merrick Garland — whom a leading Senate Republican encouraged Barack Obama to nominate before the GOP’s partisan blockade — did not deserve to be judged as an individual, too?
The rhetoric from the Judiciary Committee’s chairman this morning seemed predicated on a simple assumption: that the public is easily fooled and has a tragically short memory.
If Lindsey Graham is still capable of shame, now would be an excellent time for some.