Nobody questioned General Bork's qualifications. Nevertheless, led by Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, the Democratic Senate rejected his appointment on the simple ground that he was a conservative. Although Republican control of the Senate soon made it impossible for them to it again, they repeated on several subsequent l occasions the desirability of "borking" Republican appointees to the Court.
The tragic death of the great Antonin Scalia today set up a situation in which it is absolutely vital that the Republican majority in the current Senate do some "borking" of its own.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that Justice Scalia's successor should be appointed by the next president. But President Obama says that he will appoint Justice Scalia's successor.
Well, he can appoint somebody. But unless the Democrats win in November, or unless McConnell and the Republican majority in the Senate are every bit as worthless as the Far Right has been saying right along, whoever Mr. Scalia appoints will not be Justice Scalia's successor.
The future of the Supreme Court and of issues ranging from abortion to marriage redefinition rests upon who appoints the next justice. And I am absolutely certain that any Republican senator who votes to confirm whoever Mr. Obama appoints will be looking for a job after the next primary.
If ever an appointment needed to be "borked," it's this one. And it will be. The Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and the party's rank-and-file will quite rightly not tolerate a failure of Senate Republicans to reject anyone Mr. Obama appoints.
Nor should they. As readers of this blog know, I am no fan of Ted Cruz and the obstructionist crowd. I understand as they apparently do not that compromise far from being a dirty word is the lifeblood of any democracy. The American people are quite right to be disgusted by all the partisan bickering on Capitol Hill.
But this is a special case. Barack Obama simply cannot be allowed to appoint Antonin Scalia's successor. It's unthinkable. Too much is at stake.
I certainly hope that Mitch McConnell, the GOP leadership in the Senate, and the members of the Senate Republican caucus understand that it's literally as much as their political lives are worth to vote to confirm whomever Mr. Obama appoints. And if for no other reason than self-preservation, I'm confident that enough of them will to allow whoever takes office next January 20 to appoint the great man's successor.
Photo by Rocklin Lyons