Mitchell, Dem Senators Plot SCOTUS Strategy, Blame McConnell For Polarization

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell spent her Thursday show plotting strategy with Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy (VT) and Mazie Hirono (HI) on President Biden’s upcoming Supreme Court nominee. The Senator also blamed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans for why Supreme Court confirmations have become politicized, and instead of pushing back on that talking point, Mitchell wholeheartedly agreed.

Mitchell offered Leahy her advice on how Biden could silence inevitable GOP criticism of whoever Biden nominates, “do you think it would be preferable to have a judge, that would perhaps take one weapon away from, you know, Republican critics or other critics?

She also worried about the future of abortion: 

And I also want to ask about the typical response on some of the toughest issues, which is stare decisis, that, you know, precedent rules. But how does a Democratic nominee refer to precedent when that is already clearly in the instance of Roe v. Wade, about to be overturned by a Republican majority.

Mitchell’s question about precedence could have been a good one, considering Democrats only cite it for precedents they like. But instead, she narrowed stare decisis to just Roe.

After Leahy declared that the nominee’s answer “it’s not going to effect the decision of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he lamented that confirmations are polarized and blamed McConnell. “I wish we’d go back to the time when we come together,” he said. “I remember Mitch McConnell saying we never do a nominee during a presidential election year. Well, of course we do. When the Democrats were in control, Ronald Reagan, it was his final year, he nominated Anthony Kennedy. We all came together and he got, like, 95 votes.”

Not only did Leahy conveniently forget that Kennedy was confirmed after Democrats voted down Robert Bork, Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, but he was nominated in 1987.

Mitchell ignored this as well as Democrats not voting in large numbers for any recent Republican appointee: 

And in fact, it was that politicization that Justice Breyer wrote against and really rued the way the Court was getting, as an institution, was becoming politicized. Senator Hirono, when we talk about going forward and trying to get these votes together, Mitch McConnell, having said that we don’t do nominations in an election year, when it was a case of getting, giving Merrick Garland even a hearing, to say nothing of a vote, they confirmed Amy Coney Barrett eight days before an election when 65 million Americans had already voted.

For her part, Hirono claimed McConnell is a hypocrite and that, unlike President Trump’s appointees, she is looking for someone “who is fair and impartial.” Someone who will “fairly” and “impartially” vote for every liberal priority. 

This segment was sponsored by Progressive.

Here is a transcript for the January 27 show:

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports
1/27/2022
12:12 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: Senator Leahy, do you think it would be preferable to have a judge, that would perhaps take one weapon away from, you know, Republican critics or other critics? And I also want to ask about the typical response on some of the toughest issues, which is stare decisis, that, you know, precedent rules. But how does a Democratic nominee refer to precedent when that is already clearly in the instance of Roe v. Wade, about to be overturned by a Republican majority. 

PATRICK LEAHY: No, that’s, that’s a good question and it will be a, a, a difficult way of answering because whoever the nominee is, I’m sure, will say they’re committed to stare decisis if the Supreme Court were suddenly to rule against Roe before that seat is filled, well, then the stare decisis will be, of course, that Roe is gone. So, I, I think that’s, may seem like a big question but it’s not going to effect the decision of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I, I worry, when it becomes just a one-party kind of vote. I think it’s heading the credibility of the, of the Supreme Court when such nominees are put in there. 

I wish we’d go back to the time when we come together. I remember Mitch McConnell saying we never do a nominee during a presidential election year. Well, of course we do. When the Democrats were in control, Ronald Reagan, it was his final year, he nominated Anthony Kennedy. We all came together and he got, like, 95 votes. We’ve got to go back for that time because the Supreme Court, should have credibility, it should have the respect of the American people. That respect is going away because they’re seeing it as a political, polarized body. I want to see it come back to where people look at it and say yes, that’s the Supreme Court that can appeal to all of us. 

MITCHELL: And in fact, it was that politicization that Justice Breyer wrote against and really rued the, the way the Court was getting, as an institution, was becoming politicized. Senator Hirono, when we talk about going forward and trying to get these votes together, Mitch McConnell, having said that we don’t do nominations in an election year, when it was a case of getting, giving Merrick Garland even a hearing, to say nothing of a vote, they confirmed Amy Coney Barrett eight days before an election when 65 million Americans had already voted. 

MAZIE HIRONO: Yes. Well, the fact that Mitch McConnell is a good hypocrite is not news to any of us. In the meantime, when you talk about stare decisis, which is precedent, we now have basically a 6-to-3 court that is perfectly willing to set back decades’ long precedents, starting with Roe v. Wade. So, that is what’s happening in the Court and that is not good for the Court. That does not legitimize the Court. These split decisions that are based basically on ideological grounds really questions the, in my view, the legitimacy of the Court, which is why Amy Coney Barrett had to come out and say that the Court, I am paraphrasing, is not a bunch of political hacks. Well, you would hardly expect that kind of language to come out of the mouth of a Supreme Court justice. So, you know that there is a concern for them. But, we are going to see more of these 6-to-3 decisions. That is why you are seeing all of these challenges that will end up to the Supreme Court and I expect that same-sex marriage will be on the docket at some point and there will be other cases like this that will be decided, basically, on ideological grounds. What I’m looking for, Andrea, is a justice who is fair and impartial. And that’s not what we got with, in my view, with the three Trump nominees for the Supreme Court. 

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