The Court and the Senate [OPINION]
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, didn't "steal" a Supreme Court appointment from a Democrat president in 2016.
I know the liberal leaders of America know how the Senate functions. I hope most of my liberal friends and acquaintances understand how the nomination process works regarding federal judgeships.
I understand the function of hyperbole and straw arguments in political debates. A sound bite is sometimes worth more than a thousand pictures in the 24-hour news cycle of political debate.
However, there are lots of people out in America who don't have a firm education in civics and history, and they actually believe that the Republicans "stole" a seat on the Supreme Court for Donald Trump from President Obama.
The Congress and the Executive are equals in our system. The President nominates a person to a federal court seat, and the Senate either agrees or disagrees. The Senate makes its own rules on how it functions on a day-to-day basis. In the Senate, the Majority Leader controls the calendar for votes by the whole body, and the committee chairs control the calendar for their particular committee. All bills must first have a hearing before they can be placed on the calendar for a vote by the Majority Leader.
Whole books have been written about the process of the Senate and the various twists and turns that have occurred in our country's political history. I would recommend Robert Caro's Master of the Senate about the Lyndon Johnson's years as Majority Leader if you want to read a book about that institution.
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and sent it over to the Senate for approval or rejection. The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee decided not to hold a hearing on the nomination. The Senate Majority Leader made it clear he would not hold a vote on the nomination.
This appointment to the open seat would have gone to Hillary Clinton if she had won the election, and it looked like she was going to beat Trump during most of the campaign. The timetable of the Garland nomination is worth revisiting in the context of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The way Merrick Garland was treated was impolite, but it wasn't in violation of our Constitution. Someday, the Democrats will be in charge of the Senate, and the way they treated Garland will come back on them and it will likely be Constitutional.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.