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Conservatives: SCOTUS Pick More Important Than Senate Majority

Conservatives: SCOTUS Pick More Important Than Senate Majority

By    |   Monday, 22 February 2016 10:44 AM

Conservatives are bluntly warning the Senate against holding Supreme Court nomination hearings, saying it would be "tone deaf" and enflame already angry voters.

According to The Hill, conservatives say blocking President Barack Obama's high court pick is worth the risk even if Democrats retaliate and bring the Senate's work to a halt.

"I would rank having a conservative justice as more important than having the majority in the Senate,” David Bozell, president of For America, a conservative advocacy group, tells The Hill.

"God knows this Republican majority in the Senate hasn’t done much anyway for conservatism, period. If you look at some of the conservative movement’s successes, it’s in large part due to the court doing some decent things and making some good decisions."

Mike Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, agrees, saying "the issues that are of great concern to the conservative movement have all been decided by the Supreme Court," including Second Amendment rights, marriage and abortion.

"People who argue that the Republicans should play footsy with President Obama and the Democrats on this Supreme Court opening are the same types of people who are simply tone deaf to the political moment we’re experiencing," the American Conservative Union's chairman, Matt Schlapp, tells The Hill.

"The Senate should be more important to hold onto, but unfortunately with runaway interventionist court, the Supreme Court" might be more important, he said.

Still, President Obama this week set out on a quest to put his third justice on the Supreme Court, hoping to overcome solid Republican opposition and difficult election-year politics in what likely will be the last major battle of his tenure.


Obama faces a Republican leadership that appears united in opposing his decision to fill the seat as well as a crop of Republicans facing re-election who have lined up behind their leaders.

Those vulnerable GOP senators are crucial to any White House strategy for filling the seat held by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Democrats would need 14 defections from GOP ranks to break a filibuster and confirm a nominee. So far, no GOP senator has indicated he or she is ready to vote for an Obama nominee.

The White House said Friday that Obama will move ahead. Obama on Thursday called key Senate leaders, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, part of the customary consultation once considered essential to laying the groundwork for a warm reception for an eventual nominee.

But the president did not appear to make much headway with the GOP leaders. Hours after the call, an op-ed penned by McConnell and Grassley was published in The Washington Post restating their case for why Obama should leave the job of naming a nominee to the next president.

"It is today the American people, rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election, who should be afforded the opportunity to replace Justice Scalia," McConnell and Grassley wrote.

Grassley's name on the piece signaled the Iowa chairman is now firmly in line with leadership. Earlier in the week, the chairman had suggested he might be open to holding hearings on an Obama nominee, a statement that buoyed Obama and his allies and confused the GOP message.

If Obama has any hope of winning, he'll need more than a muddled message.

Obama's hopes rest first on persuading Grassley to hold hearings in his committee. Then McConnell would have to agree to a vote by the full Senate, where the president would need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

The Hill notes vulnerable GOP senators in competitive re-election races are feeling the heat over the issue, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whom the Concord Monitor took to task for her "knee-jerk fashion” call for post-election confirmation hearings.

"Certainly there’s nervousness on the part of Republicans about what an absolute refusal to hold any hearings might do to GOP candidates in swing states," John Ullyot, a GOP aide and former senior Senate aide, tells The Hill.

"If Republicans hold hearings, that takes a lot of the pressure off their candidates in swing states who are in some cases in tough races."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Conservatives are bluntly warning the Senate against holding Supreme Court nomination hearings, saying it would be "tone deaf" and enflame already angry voters.
Conservatives, SCOTUS, Obama, McConnell, Grassley, Senate
Monday, 22 February 2016 10:44 AM
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