But It Rhymes

     If Senator Rand Paul should die tomorrow, would his fellow senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, want Paul’s Senate seat to remain vacant until the next election?
     Of course not. That would reduce the voting power of the Great State of Kentucky by half in the Senate.
     McConnell got a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1967, so he should understand the Constitution. But apparently he does not.
     According to Article II, Section 2, Clause ii, the Appointments Clause, the president appoints the justices of the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
     Nowhere does the Constitution say that the Senate Majority Leader may block the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.
     McConnell could vote against an appointee, sure. But his party’s insistence that they have the right to keep a seat on the Supreme Court vacant for a year is not just raw, vile politics, it’s an unconstitutional power grab.
     As a lawyer and senator, McConnell should also be familiar with the 17th Amendment. It took away state legislatures’ power to elect U.S. senators and gave that power to voters. It also set the rules for what happens when a senator dies in office: the governor of the dead senator’s state may appoint an interim senator until the Legislature sets a date for an election, and the people elect a new senator. Or they can just call the election.
     Let’s return to our original question. Senator Paul will be up for re-election in November. Let’s assume he dies tomorrow – quickly and painlessly, of course. We’re not trying to be cruel here.
     Would McConnell want Paul’s Senate seat left vacant until January 2017?
     Of course not.
     If the governor of Kentucky were a Democrat, and refused to appoint an interim senator, or if the Legislature were controlled by Democrats and refused to call an election, McConnell would surely raise holy hell.
     So what’s the difference?
     The Constitution spells out precisely what happens when a senator dies, and what happens when a justice of the Supreme Court dies.
     In neither case does the Constitution say that a single official, elected or appointed, may block the process spelled out in the Constitution.
     I wonder what the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the famous originalist-constitutionalist, would have to say about McConnell’s unconstitutional tantrum, and his party’s acquiescence to it.
     It’s been a nauseating week for people who respect the Constitution: seeing political whores and panderers dance on Scalia’s grave, in search of political profit.
     As Scalia did all his life, on the Constitution.
     I’ve held off for a week – until hizzoner was in the ground – but enough’s enough.
     Scalia was not an originalist, or a constitutionalist. He was a homophobic, religious bigot with a chip on his shoulder.
     I don’t care how clever Scalia was or how well he could write. In his 30 years on the court he pushed his prejudices by searching for fragments of the Constitution to try to justify them.
     He did more harm than good. And now his party’s majority leader, in his honor, is showing the world just how much that party respects the Constitution.
     The United States’ situation today can be summed up in one sentence: “Our country has reached the point that we can no longer bear its corruption, nor what is needed to clean up the corruption.”
     Who said it? Bernie Sanders?
     Virgil: Two thousand years ago, in his “History of Rome.”
     History does not repeat, Mark Twain said, “but it rhymes.”

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