Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to answer questions after a weekly policy meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 20, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

Senate Republicans rediscover the value of ‘Pinata Politics’

Updated
Almost exactly 10 years ago, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was concerned about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito facing “attacks” from Senate Democrats. Eventually, the Texas Republican said at the time, senators “will need to come to terms with our confirmation process.” Cornyn added that treating nominees “more like pinatas than human beings” is “something none of us should be willing to tolerate.”
 
That was when there was a Republican president in the White House. Now that President Obama is the one doing the nominating, Cornyn is apparently less concerned about Pinata Politics.
Even though Senate Republicans have no intention of holding hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, that doesn’t mean he or she won’t be dragged through the mud.
 
And the chamber’s No. 2 Republican made that clear to a small cluster of reporters Monday, saying he believed the nominee, “will bear some resemblance to a pinata.”
A decade ago, Cornyn characterized this as “something none of us should be willing to tolerate,” but this year, one gets the impression that the Senate Majority Whip not only tolerates the same practices he denounced. he also intends to be one of the lawmakers holding the stick, swinging for candy.
 
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was unimpressed with the rhetoric. “Senator Cornyn has now taken the next step and suggested – without knowing who this nominee is, without considering what their record is, what their experience is, how qualified they are for the job – he is suggesting that they’ll be subjected to bashing by Republicans,” Earnest told reporters yesterday. “It’s unclear for what reason, other than the president of the United States has chosen to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate someone to fill a vacancy.”
 
That said, if Cornyn and the GOP’s tolerance for Pinata Politics is intended to intimidate potential nominees – “It’s a nice career you have there, it’d be a shame if we had to beat you with a stick” – it might be working.
 
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s (R) was floated as a possible choice for the Supreme Court, though he soon after withdrew his name from consideration. Yesterday, as MSNBC reported, a high-profile member of the president’s cabinet did the same thing.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has “asked not to be considered” for nomination to the Supreme Court to take the spot formerly occupied by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Today, The Hill reported that another possible contender also bowed out.
Federal Appellate Judge Adalberto Jordan has taken himself out of consideration to become President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, CNN reported Wednesday.
 
The Miami-based judge was reportedly a contender to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and would have been the first Cuban-American to sit on the high court.
Of course, people may have all kinds of reasons to withdraw from consideration, but it’s easy to imagine Republican rhetoric about pinatas serving as a meaningful deterrent.
 
 

John Cornyn, Loretta Lynch, Senate Republicans and Supreme Court

Senate Republicans rediscover the value of 'Pinata Politics'

Updated