‘Vicious’ road ahead for battle over Supreme Court nominee
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – While questions remain over how the Supreme Court nomination process will play out over the coming weeks and months, experts agree the road ahead will be turbulent.
“It will not be pretty, it will be vicious and very, very aggressive,” Ryan Owens a political science professor at UW-Madison told CBS 58.
The process is already off to a rough start as Democrats lob accusations of hypocrisy at Republicans who prevented Merrick Garland from even getting a hearing in 2016 when he was nominated by former President Barack Obama.
Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin, like many of her colleagues, has used the GOP argument used in 2016 as the reason for why the Senate should not approve a Trump nominee until a new term starts in 2021.
“We are weeks away from an election for President and control of the Senate, and people are voting right now,” Sen. Baldwin said in a statement. “After the voters have spoken in the election, and the elected President and new Senate have taken office, we can then move forward on a Supreme Court nomination.”
But Republicans are likely moving ahead, despite a clear about face from where they stood in 2016.
“In such a highly politicized atmosphere, it’s probably not fair the nominee or the process to have a nominee,” Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters in 2016. “That was our advice, President Obama didn’t follow it, fine. But our second part is consent, and so we’re going to withhold our consent.”
Experts say the GOP is well within their constitutional powers to move ahead, regardless of any standard or prior practice regarding Supreme Court nominees and election years.
“This notion of consistency among politicians across time is sort of naïve,” Owens said.
In order for a nominee to be prevented from joining the court, four Senate Republicans would have to part from the party line. So far, only two have done that.
While GOP leaders would like to see an approval process happen before Election Day, that would require valuable time from certain Senate Judiciary Committee members who are up for re-election, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“The judiciary committee is going to have to be in session holding hearings on this and that means senators will not be at home campaigning,” Owens said in an interview. “And so I think there are some folks on that committee who think to themselves, ‘Hey, we need to be back home campaigning and keeping us here in Washington, politically, might not be the greatest thing.’ So that suggests it could creep over to the lame duck session.”
Owens said the odds-on favorite is Amy Cohen Barrett with Barbara Lagoa a close second. But he added that someone like Diane Sykes, who is from Wisconsin, should not be immediately counted out. Sykes has been mentioned in previous nomination discussions.
President Trump has signaled he will select a woman for his nominee and will likely announce a name by the end of September.