Mitch McConnell will stay the course on the Garland nomination



By Peter J. Wallison.




The media drumbeat on a replacement for Justice Scalia continues unabated. The nomination of Merrick Garland has been hailed as a brilliant Obama move to increase pressure on GOP leader Mitch McConnell, and the agreements of several senators to meet with Garland have been described as important leaks in the GOP dike that will eventually cause the whole thing to collapse.

But this is a media fantasy, which fails to understand Senator McConnell’s strategy and why his position won’t change.

Several weeks ago, shortly after Justice Scalia’s death and McConnell’s statement that there would be no hearings and no vote on any Obama nomination, I wrote in this space that it was a virtual certainty no action by the Senate would occur before January 2017. The reason is that Mitch McConnell’s dominant interest is maintaining GOP control of the Senate. To do this, he has to protect GOP Senators running this year in five blue states — Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

If these senators, and perhaps others, have to vote on this nomination, there can be no good outcome for them. If they vote against the nominee, it will enrage the left, which will use the vote to increase turnout on election day; if they vote for him, it will enrage the right, which will stay home in November. Look, for example, at the pressure from the right that is now being brought on Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, who only said he favored holding hearings on the nominee.

It’s obvious that whatever criticism a GOP senator might face for not voting on Merrick Garland, the results of an actual vote — either way — would be far worse. If he wants to keep GOP control of the Senate, Mitch McConnell will stay the course.




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