The GOP’s bogus ‘Three-Fourths Rule’

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

It is below freezing and snowing on this President’s Day in Washington. So I ground some beans from my stash of Java House Blend, and am relaxing in my bathrobe sipping coffee with hazelnut creamer and contemplating the Three-Fourths Rule invented by Republicans to block any Supreme Court nominee by our president. They say the president should only fill Supreme Court vacancies for the first three years of his term.

The last time lots of people were invoking The Will of the People, they saw a vital need to bypass our courts and legislatures and hold plebiscites on my right to marry. In the present case, the will of the people was expressed in November 2012 when Barack Obama received five million more votes than Mitt Romney, for a total of 332 electoral votes.

The only reason to leave a seat on the court vacant for nearly a year is in hopes of winning the election and maintaining a conservative majority. Newt Gingrich, the only good thing about whom that I can say is that he has a really cool half sister, suggests that President Obama should consult Senate Republicans and nominate a conservative jurist in the mold of the late Justice Scalia.

You may be thinking that hell will freeze over first. But let me remind you of how President George H.W. Bush in 1991, after Thurgood Marshall retired, consulted Senate Democrats and nominated another liberal in the mold of Justice Marshall. Oh, wait, that’s not what happened at all. He chose Clarence Thomas.

So what we have here, folks, is an old-fashioned case of entitlement, where Republicans feel entitled to get their way whether a Republican or a Democrat is president. How about no? Or, as my friend Mark Thompson at SiriusXM Progress 127 puts it, Hell to the No. I wonder if the Republicans plan to keep the seat vacant another four years after they lose the election. In fact, their cynical mischief-making may help Democratic Senate candidates in key states. Mitch McConnell stands to lose both the conservative majority on the court and his post as Majority Leader. Meanwhile, a string of 4-4 votes on the court will mean that lower court rulings stand, and it happens that most of the circuit courts are liberal.

In short, the conservatives lose either way. Now I am going to pour myself another cup of this delicious coffee and toast my beloved president on the occasion of one of the most important decisions of his presidency. Go get ’em, Mr. President.


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