I’m Mitch McConnell. I have a historic opportunity to turn the highest court in the land solidly conservative in its makeup. Do I take it? My first, second, and third instincts might be to say. “Yes, of course!” This is a once in a generation opportunity to peel back all the gains liberals have made over the past few decades and return the country to the rigidly conservative culture of its roots.
Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Marriage between a man and a woman could be finally enshrined into law. Christians would be free to discriminate as they see fit under the guise of religious liberty. Gun control laws across the country could be repealed en masse and worker’s rights and unions could finally be destroyed. Where is the downside?
Well, hold on. What if I told you, Mitch, that nominating a justice to the Supreme Court this close to an election in order to fill Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat would be the biggest mistake of your political career?
You’d be shocked, but hear me out.
Waiting will make this election a referendum on this seat.
Before RBG’s passing, the Court already leaned 5–4 in favor of conservatives. Yes, this court didn’t always rule your way, but is there a guarantee that even with a 6–3 court would as well? Give a judge a lifetime appointment and it’s almost guaranteed they’ll throw a few surprises your way, so what’s there to lose if you hold on nominating until a new president is installed?
If Trump wins, you’ll get your 6–3 court and four more years of Trump to enact your conservative vision. You might lose the Senate still but the chances of that happening certainly won’t go up by waiting. If Trump loses, the worst thing that happens is the court would return to its 5–4 makeup, and if Republicans manage to hang on to the Senate, whoever is nominated would likely be far less liberal than RBG.
Choosing to wait would allow Republicans and especially vulnerable ones to be seen as sticking to their principles. They would be seen as confident in their ability to win and any motivation that might be had by Democrats from having a seat up for grabs would certainly be counter-balanced by your own voters for the same reason. Whoever wins the election, gets to fill the seat.
Finally, this move would diffuse any Democratic court-packing threats that have arisen over the years. It would be a much harder sell for Democrats if Republicans are seen as playing by their own rules, and you, Mitch, would be seen as a man of your word.
Ultimately, the potential upside is still good here if you wait, while the risk to your party is far less severe. You lose and the Supreme Court will still lean conservative.
Confirming someone now will come at a heavy political cost down the line.
If you go through with this plan to nominate a new justice to the Supreme Court prior to the election or even in the lame-duck period, retribution will be swift for you and every member of your party up and down the ballot. There is far more risk to the conservative agenda and the fount of power that you hold on to so dearly if you confirm Trump’s nominee this year as opposed to waiting until next year. Let’s game it out.
You confirm the nominee now and Trump wins. You have the 6–3 Court that you want and four more years to enact your agenda, but it’s far less guaranteed that you keep the Senate. Your chance of losing the Senate will rise significantly if you confirm a nominee now so a likely “good” outcome is that you get your justice, Trump wins, but Republicans lose the Senate.
Alternatively, if you confirm now, but Trump loses and you lose the Senate. Packing the Supreme Court is all but certain. Democrats across the country are leveling that threat, and you know its serious when corporate Dems like Schumer and Pelosi are the ones leading the charge. Democrats will pack the court and depending on how many justices they add, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court could disappear entirely.
Also Democrats are fed up with Republican chicanery over the past twelve years, and I promise you that this vacancy is the last straw. You fill it now, and I swear to you the dam will break. There will be retribution far and wide politically to ensure that Republicans lose their chance at power for the next generation.
I’m talking about admitting Puerto Rico and D.C. into the Union, abolishing the electoral college, restoring the voting rights act, ensuring that voting is as easy as humanly possible across the country.
Democrats are on the cusp of a government trifecta, and there is a real chance that filling this seat will deliver it to us. Is that a future you really want? Because you will be delivering it to us on a silver platter. Your career could be over, Mitch.
The reality on the ground isn’t in your favor, Mitch.
There are over a dozen vulnerable Senate seats this election cycle. All we need is a handful to flip the Senate. Democrats are fired up. Over the past three days, over 100 million dollars has been donated to Democratic causes across the country since RBG’s passing. A blue tidal wave is coming for you this election cycle and the only question I have for you is whether you want to neutralize it by waiting until next year to fill that seat or supercharge it by confirming now.
The choice is yours, Mitch.