Mitch McConnell has already said he is unlikely to approve any Supreme Court nominee before November, and it seems the White House would rather go to war then admit defeat.
According to reports this morning, the White House is declining the opportunity to make a recess appointment to the Supreme Court – an option they have if they believe the Senate will not act, and an option that could be beneficial if the White House intends to have a new justice in place before the Court stops hearing cases, likely in late April.
This is doubly interesting because the Senate is in recess right now, until next Tuesday. As Allahpundit notes at Hot Air, if he took this route, Barack Obama appoint someone today and have a guaranteed liberal voice on the Court until, at least, he leaves in 2017. And if other recess appointments are any indication, that Justice could stick around even longer. And this may be his last chance to do anything before November: McConnell could keep the Senate in pro forma sessions for months, even if no legislative work is being done, only committee work, but that hasn’t stopped Obama before. Although he was handed his patoot by SCOTUS for his NLRB recess appointments, the ruling could be read to cover only a limited number of appointments. Even if Republicans take him to court over a SCOTUS appointment, he’d at least make it an interesting few months.
Instead, the Administration seems to think that war is the answer, an assumption they’re making on the belief, I think, that deadlock over a judicial nominee will hurt Republicans in November, or at least help Democrats. I’m not sure that’s an established fact; McConnell has an opportunity to show backbone to the conservative grassroots – something they’ve been looking for for a while – and a Republican President would be in a better position to undo laws that are in jeopardy after Justice Scalia’s death. Little Sisters of the Poor is a loss at 4-4, where the lower court’s decision stands, but the HHS mandate would be a top priority for a Republican President.
The best Democrats can hope for is that the nation tires on a deadlock and hands the Senate to the Democrats, making the first couple years of President Donald Trump’s tenure a wash, because a Republican Presidential candidate can easily submit their short list to get voters excited. I hear Judge Janice Rogers Brown is free to get called up to the “Big Leagues.”