Former Supreme Court Justice and class act Sandra Day O'Connor told Fox 10 News in Phoenix that Senate Republicans should stop with the business of blocking any appointment to fill the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake became the latest Republican to say he would not even consider hearing from any nominee President Barack Obama put forth. Flake, like many other Republicans, holding up this unprecedented obstructionism as some kind of tradition. His statement:
One would have to go back more than a century to find a scenario where a president’s nominee for the Supreme Court was confirmed by the opposition party in the Senate when the vacancy occurred during an election year. I'm not about to break new ground in the Senate, particularly when any nominee could so drastically shift the balance of the court.
The real breaking of new ground here, of course, is the refusal to even consider a nominee. Flake may be technically correct that an opposition party hasn't confirmed a nominee in more than a century, but that's only because the opportunity hasn't come up. (Jonathan Chait at New York mag debunks the claims of "tradition" here.)
What's really going on here is the continuing collapse of all political norms that have kept our government functioning for as long as it has. This is raw power politics, not some deference to long-held principles. And that's not going unnoticed with the comments on his Facebook page.
Flake is doing this to save his own political hide; Arizona conservatives are growsing that he is a secretly a big ol' lib because he voted in favor of Loretta Lynch as US attorney general, so he's gonna prove them wrong, no matter what the damage is to the country and the reputation of the court. Nice work, Sen. Flake.