Monday, February 15, 2016

How Obama Could Win Supreme Court Battle — Even If Republicans Take the White House

NBC News has an interesting piece that lays out how Barack Obama could still prevail on his new Supreme Court nominee even if the Republicans win the White House so long as the Democrats retake control of the United States Senate.  Should the scenario come to pass, it would be sweet justice and tilt the court to the left and position it to under cut whatever batshitery a GOP president might seek to inflict on the nation.  Here are some article excerpts:

Senate Republicans are pledging to block any Supreme Court nomination by President Obama until after November, hoping a Republican will replace him and fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia. 

But even if the Senate refuses to confirm Obama's pick and a Republican wins the White House, there is one way Obama can still get his nominee confirmed. 

It could all come down to 17 crucial days in January.  If Democrats win back the Senate and lose the White House in November, they would control both branches of government for about two weeks before Obama leaves office. That overlap in the transition of power is set in stone. The Constitution mandates the new Congress begins work on January 3, while President Obama stays in power until January 20. 

So if Democrats take back the Senate, President Obama could send a Supreme Court nominee to that new Democratic majority, which would have 17 days to change the filibuster rules and ram in a vote before a new President takes power.

"If a Democratic Senate comes in on January third, President Obama could send in his Supreme Court nomination," explained a former Obama administration lawyer. "Then Democrats could apply the 'nuclear option' to Supreme Court nominations, and vote in Obama's nominee by a simple majority." 

Senate Democrats already used the 'nuclear option' to eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominees in 2013, but exempted Supreme Court nominees from the change. 

The provocative scenario for January 2017 is certainly not the White House's first choice.  President Obama is currently calling on the Senate to hold a "timely" vote on the nominee he selects, while Republicans insist that request is dead on arrival. 

The very prospect of Democrats muscling in an Obama appointee next year, however, could impact the wrangling between the parties this year. 

"The possibility shows Republicans could overplay their hand," said the former Obama official, who requested anonymity to discuss a strategy which assumes Obama's nominee won't be confirmed this year. 

"If Republicans act in a way that jeopardizes Senate seats," the official argued, "then it doesn't matter who wins the presidential election." 

In fact, if Republicans completely block a "consensus" Obama nominee all year and then lose the Senate, Obama might be tempted to appoint an even more liberal replacement for Scalia in January.

It would all depend on President Obama's approach to his last major act in office, coupled with how far Senate Democrats are willing to go. 
In an election year that has already brought many surprises, the balance of the Supreme Court could turn on the fate of four Senate races and those crucial 17 days in January 2017. 

Preferably, the Democrats and the White House, but the scenario outlined above would certainly be sweet. 

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