The Senate GOP cannot fall into the trap of “shutting down” the Senate in response to the destruction of the filibuster by Radical Harry Reid and his gang of wreckers. Too many important things must happen, like the Defense bill and the eventual capitulation of the Dems on the need at least for a delay of Obamacare until 2017.
(I discussed the prospect –not great but possible– of Chief Justice Roberts using the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases to lift the burden of Obamacare from the land in an interview with the New York Times’ Adam Liptak yesterday. The transcript is here. The Chief Justice’s views on stare decisis are best stated in his concurrence in Citizens United.)
But if the Senate GOP does nothing, it will only encourage more and more radicalism from an already unmoored and increasingly erratic Reid and a desperate president. I discussed one possible response on Tuesday’s show with Bill Kristol:
HH: You know, one of the byproducts of the nuclear option in the Senate is that some senators are saying we shouldn’t move any legislation, which includes Defense approps and Defense reauthorization. I think that’s a horrible mistake. But I do think we need to have some policy. What do you make of simply announcing that if and when we get to 51 senators, we will move no judicial nominees for the following two years? They can use the recess appointment. He certainly can. But we won’t confirm a Supreme Court nominee, we will not appoint, we will not confirm an appellate court nominee. That’s our response. You broke the rules, you broke the deal, and therefore for the last two years of Obama, we’re not going to move anyone, Bill. And that avoids getting caught in the tit for tat on legislation.
BK: You know, I like that idea. I hadn’t really thought of that particular version of that. I had, I was just talking on the phone last night with a former Republican senator who said he was very worried that you know, everyone would scream, and they had been complaining for the last week about what Harry Reid did, but at the end of the day, the Republicans would back off and do nothing, and that that would really be terrible in terms of both substance and also of the kind of signal it sends. And I like the idea of the courts, and that was what Reid changed the rules on, well, executive branch nominations, too, but I think those, that I’ve always felt was the less necessary to preserve the filibuster on that, though I think still wise. But on the judicial appointments, I like the idea of saying you know what? Fine, you changed the rules, you’re jamming people through now, but guess what? When we get 51, so when Republicans get 51 senators, that’s it. And I think it would be an attractive thing to go to the public on.
BK: You know what? You got to the public and say you like Obamacare, you like having a bunch of liberals jammed through on the federal benches, you reelect your Democratic senator. You want some senators who are going to stand up and stop Obamacare and try to repeal it and replace it, and you want senators who can prevent Obama from packing the federal courts, you vote for the Republican.
HH: That’s it. And I would extend it to the Supreme Court vacancy in the event that any were to occur, in order to up the ante and make sure they pay a genuine price, because that would be unprecedented, but so was the [Reid] maneuver.
So Mitch McConnell announces now, and very clearly and repeatedly, that the price of the use by Reid of the procedural nuke is a blue slip for every judicial nominee and other means of maximum delay of judicial nominees through the elections of November, and a guarantee that not one federal judicial nominee will move through the GOP controlled Senate in 2015-2016, including any SCOTUS nominee. Of course the president might be able to use his Recess Appointment power if the Senate goes into recess, but those judges (and justices) would only serve through the end of 2016.
Explain the issue and defend the proposed response. Do it early and often. Pin the measure on Reid and stick with it come the turn-over post the Obamacare referendum of November 2014.
There is no guarantee of a win next fall of course. The massive shift towards the GOP –unprecedented actually, a 10 point swing in six weeks, and broad and deep, and getting deeper by the day as Obamacare disaster follows Obamacare disaster– could be reversed, and the president’s ill-conceived “deal” with Iran makes a war in the Middle East much more likely than it had been and crises rescues even desperate presidents (see the impact of the Cuban missile crisis on the voting in 1962).
But politics can only be waged in the present, and right now the Senate GOP needs a response that has teeth even if the bite is delayed by a year.