In a shameful display of partisan politics, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time politicizing the tragic death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Facebook, calling MSNBC at 6:20pm to inform television viewers, and releasing his statement and that the US Senate would filibuster any nominee proposed by President Obama to replace the only very recently deceased conservative judge on the highest court in the land. It’s a shocking turn of events because Republicans often spend their time criticizing Democrats for politicizing preventable gun violence and mass shootings. Now, one of the Republicans’ legends, their longest serving Supreme Court justice, appointed by Ronald Reagan himself has passed, and all they can do is drag his passing into a petty political circus on the eve of a Republican primary debate. Senator McConnell ended his Facebook post with this bombshell:
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
In case Mr. McConnell missed the message, the American people did have a voice already in the selection of Supreme Court justices. The American people overwhelmingly voted twice for President Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer and law professor to represent all citizens in choosing qualified members of the US Supreme Court. Elections have consequences, and it’s shameful that leading Senate Republicans can only think about their own needs and desires, when the Senior Associate Justice has passed unexpectedly. Even Jeb Bush managed to stow his politics for a few minutes to express sympathy for the deceased and his family and to note his shared faith with the departed Justice Scalia.
Ted Cruz, the former Supreme Court clerk turned Senator turned evangelical presidential hopeful, couldn’t even devote half a single tweet to respectfully paying homage to the court’s most conservative member. But who can blame Rafael Eduardo Cruz for being short and crass, he can’t even let his own party call him by his real name, lest the Trump immigration trolls rip his clothing apart as private security escorts him off of tonight’s debate stage for being purportedly latino. Or perhaps, Cruz was too distracted to properly mourn the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia – with whom he’d very likely interacted personally while working at the court – after going into damage control mode for accidentally casting a porn star in his latest campaign ad? The world may never know.
Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
Florida Senator Marco Rubio robotically followed along with a similarly disrespectful statement too. Rubio’s extended eulogy betrayed a cold political machine-like logic insisting that, “The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering believe in the founding principles that we hold dear.” Of course, nobody knows what principles Rubio clearly holds, since he was perfectly happy to abandon his own signature achievement in the House, passing the Gang of 8 immigration reform bill, after working closely with New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer to create a meaningful piece of legislation to improve the lives of many latinos and immigrants of all races and creeds who’d made it to America and built a life not unlike his immigrant parents, or especially Rubio’s grandfather. Rubio’s grandfather was a high ranking member of the Castro regime, but unable to qualify for asylum, but remainied in the USA illegally for years until Congress similarly legalized his presence in Florida.
Jeanette & I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts & prayers are with his wife Maureen & his family. pic.twitter.com/e03KRZRM6q
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 13, 2016
It’s no secret that Democrats, liberal leaning independents and moderates despised Scalia’s “Originalism” on the bench, finding fault in his antiquated ideas about equal rights for gay people, and his staunch defense of Corporate freedom of speech rights in the Citizens United case which legalized unlimited Super PACs, dark money and many of the money in politics problems which Senator Sanders spends much of his presidential campaign disparaging. However, no Democratic leaders would’ve ever issued a whiny, public filibuster on social media before the funeral, let alone within minutes of finding out the news. Antonin Scalia was a bane to liberals, a hard working judge and widely acknowledged as the wittiest Justice in the court, often delighting Democrats with his scathing dissents in defeat and scalding them with detestable decisions when in the majority. Love him or hate him, everyone had to have an opinion on Justice Scalia, but sadly, Republicans only opinion today, on the day of his demise, is that they should be allowed to choose his successor.
The longest it’s taken to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in US history is 125 days. President Obama has 361 days left in office.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition