Washington, Apr 8 (AP) The Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was vindication for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who made a risky bet more than a year ago that paid off big time for President Donald Trump and the Republican leader himself.
When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell decided immediately that the Senate would not fill the seat until the next president was elected.
He stuck to that stance without wavering, ignoring Democratic griping, misgivings from fellow Republicans, and ultimately erroneous predictions that GOP Senate candidates would pay a political price.
Now McConnell, R-Ky, can take credit for allowing Trump to put a young conservative on the court for life, even though it took changing Senate rules to do it.
“No 1, it’s courageous. No 2, it’s genius, in that order, because he knew how much criticism he would get,” said Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla.
Democrats and some Republicans predicted dire fallout from McConnell’s divisive Senate rules change that removed the 60-vote filibuster barrier for Supreme Court picks, warning of a more polarised Senate and court over time. But most in the GOP were full of praise for the wily Kentuckian.
“Mitch did what he thought was the right thing at the time, and I think the American people agreed with it, as was evidenced by the outcome of the election,” said Senator John Thune, R-SD “And now we have a great justice on the Supreme Court.”
Frustrated Democrats grudgingly acknowledged that McConnell got what he wanted and delivered for his party, even as they insisted that the damage done to the Senate in the process would not quickly be forgotten.
And next time Democrats control the White House and the Senate, they could be the ones to benefit from the rules change enacted under McConnell, since it will apply to all future Supreme Court nominees, too, eliminating any need for input from the minority party in making confirmations to the high court.
“The Republicans engaged in historic obstructionism that made it possible for this confirmation process to be conducted,” said Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass.
“We now have a radical right-wing justice on the Supreme Court. And I think that was their goal all along. So it is successful.”
Some Republicans say that the vacancy on the Supreme Court was an important factor in Trump’s victory in November, since the prospect of putting a conservative on the court helped evangelicals and other voters overcome their misgivings about Trump. (AP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.