The obscene politics behind Mitch McConnell’s Garland obstruction

Republicans didn’t just embarrass themselves in Cleveland last week by nominating an unrepentant bigot to lead their presidential ticket.

The week also marked 125 days since President Obama appointed Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Garland’s confirmation process now holds the record for the longest a nominee has gone without a vote. (Previously this milestone was held by one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices, Louis Brandeis.)

Merrick Garland’s confirmation is not being held up because he is unqualified or because he is unfit to serve on our nation’s highest court. To the contrary, the reason Republicans refuse to even allow a hearing about the nomination is because it would then be difficult for them to justify casting a vote against him. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking at the Republican convention, openly acknowledged the obscene politics behind his party’s obstruction, telling delegates:

“[O]n that sad day when we lost Justice Scalia, I made another pledge that Obama would not fill his seat. That honor will go to Donald Trump next year.”

Republican leaders have made a decision. They do not care about the cost and will do whatever it takes to block Barack Obama from fulfilling his constitutionally mandated obligation and filling this seat on the Supreme Court. This is true even if it costs them the Senate majority.

In state after state, a combination of Donald Trump at the top of the ticket and Supreme Court obstruction have been tanking Republican Senators in the polls. The Koch brothers recently announced they were pulling their funding from Ron Johnson’s reelection in Wisconsin. While in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Illinois, incumbent Republican Senators are in trouble. Even previously safe Republican incumbents like Sen. John McCain now fear losing their seats. Iowa’s Sen. Chuck Grassley has not won a race by less than 30 points in the last 30 years. Now he finds himself even in the polls to a Democratic challenger.

So what should progressives do? With the Senate on recess through August, and unlikely to act on the Merrick Garland confirmation when they return, our job is to extract a price for their obstruction. The media is now ignoring this story, moving on to cover things they believe are more current. It is up to us not to let them. Keeping Republican obstruction front and center is the only way we can ensure they think twice before engaging in this undemocratic behavior again.