I gotta tell ya, I’m starting to get more than just a little worried about Chuckie Schumer, Democrat senator from New York. The reason I say that is because Chuckie recent took some pot shots at those Republicans who have dared to point out a speech that Schumer gave back in 2007, which called for the blocking of all George W. Bush Supreme Court nominees, to justify their efforts to block Barry from replacing late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He now seems to deny that he ever called for any such thing. So is the good senator simply suffering from political amnesia, or something a little more serious?
It was in a piece on some website called ‘Medium’, that Schumer wrote, “Over the last couple of days, some Republicans, embarrassed by their partisan overreach in attempting to prevent the President from nominating a Supreme Court justice, have tried to use a 2007 speech I gave to justify their current obstruction.” Chuckie then went on to write, “Sadly for them, even a quick perusal of the speech shows it provides no cover and that Leader McConnell is comparing apples to oranges.” It comes as no surprise that this is how Chuckie would views things since the shoe is now most definitely on the other foot.
But Schumer then went on to say, “What I said in the speech given in 2007 is simple: Democrats, after a hearing, should entertain voting no if the nominee is out of the mainstream and tries to cover that fact up.” And he continued by saying, “There was no hint anywhere in the speech that there shouldn’t be hearings or a vote. Only that if after hearings and a vote, Democrats determined that the nominee was out of the mainstream and trying to hide it, they should have no qualms about voting no.” Now I hate to call anyone a liar, even old Chuckie, but the truth is that his explanation doesn’t exactly hold water, as they say.
Now while it is certainly true that he never actually calls for avoiding hearings, it is absolutely the case that what he was proposing was to categorically reject any new nominees that Bush might put forward. In his speech to the very liberal American Constitution Society, Schumer was reflecting on his experience with the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, whose elevation heralded a conservative shift by the Supreme Court. After claiming Democrats were “hoodwinked” by Alito and Roberts at their confirmation hearings, Schumer lays out his proposals for how Democrats should act going forward.
He said, “For the rest of this President’s term and if there is another Republican elected with the same selection criteria let me say this: We should reverse the presumption of confirmation.” And he then goes on to say, “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito. Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.”
Now his piece on Medium’s website notwithstanding, it’s very clear that Schumer was not calling for Democrats to “entertain” voting against a Bush nominee. What he was saying is that Democrats should absolutely vote down any nominee unless unclear “exceptional circumstances” dictated otherwise. And it’s the full text of Schumer’s speech that further belies his claim that Democrats would only have had to decide against a nominee after a full hearing. Much of Schumer’s speech consists of him arguing that confirmation hearings are inherently unreliable and not a good way to vet a candidate for the Supreme Court. He said, “Hearings produce a lot of sound and fury, often signifying nothing.”
And something else I recently discovered, and something that Chuckie fails to mention, is that in August 1960, the then Democrat-controlled Senate passed a resolution, S.RES. 334, which stated, “Expressing the sense of the Senate that the president should not make recess appointments to the Supreme Court, except to prevent or end a breakdown in the administration of the Court’s business.” Each of President Eisenhower’s SCOTUS appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats were apparently concerned that Ike would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment.
The GOP opposed this, of course, but the Democrat majority ended up having their way, and by what was a very comfortable margin, just as the Republican majority should have its way this time. The final vote on the resolution then was 48 Democrats voting “yea”, 33 Republicans and 4 Democrats voting “nay.” Also, note that President Eisenhower had recess-appointed William Brennan to the Supreme Court in October 1956, just before the presidential election. With a winnable election coming up, Democrats obviously didn’t want a replay. So as we can plainly see here, Chuckie is being nothing if not more than a bit hypocritical as well as dishonest.
But then that should really come a big a big surprise to no one. But we might as well get ready for his kind of political sleaze because when the Democrats regain control of the Senate after this next election, Schumer will most likely be running the show. And the chances of that happening will increase, and rather dramatically so, if the McConnell ends up wilting under what is sure to be the growing pressure to put another liberal on the Court. Sometimes I wonder if McConnell even wants to be in charge, he definitely doesn’t work at it. But there is little doubt that Schumer is salivating at the prospects of running the Senate.