Some in GOP back Trump's nominee before the choice is even made

Some Senate Republicans have endorsed Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, despite the fact that they don't know who the nominee will be.
Image: Thom Tillis
Senator Thom Tillis listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting in Washington, on June 11, 2020.Erin Schaff / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

When it comes to the Supreme Court, most Senate Republicans are engaging in nihilistic hypocrisy to a degree without modern precedent, but some cases are a bit more ridiculous than others.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), for example, went so far as to argue in 2016 that a Supreme Court confirmation process during an election would imperil "the very health of our republic." Four years later, the North Carolina Republicans not only disagrees with his own stated principles, he's also issued a statement vowing to support Donald Trump's latest nominee.

Among the problems with this: Trump doesn't yet have a nominee. Thom Tillis wants voters to know he doesn't much care who the president chooses; the senator intends to play the role of rubber stamp. The North Carolinian may have advise-and-consent responsibilities, but he's content to put those duties aside.

And as it turns out, Tillis isn't alone.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said late Monday that the GOP has the votes to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat ahead of the presidential election. "We've got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg's replacement before the election," Graham told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an interview Monday.

This made news in part because of the significance of the election calendar -- Republicans apparently have no intention of waiting for the lame-duck session -- but also because of what the South Carolinian was signaling to the public about what's transpired behind the scenes: Graham has spoken to his GOP colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee and confirmed that they're all prepared to support Trump's choice.

Even if they don't know who that choice is. A Washington Post analysis added:

The thing is, it's not at all surprising that virtually every Republican will wind up voting for the nominee. This is how these things generally go.... But to sign off on any and all of them, sight unseen? That's another thing entirely. Most of them have been vetted as part of their previous confirmation processes, but the scrutiny involved in that process is nowhere near what it is for a Supreme Court justice. Saying you'll support whomever it is precludes valid questions about their jurisprudence and character emerging as part of that process.

Rush Limbaugh yesterday urged GOP senators to skip Judiciary Committee hearings altogether, which is certainly in keeping with Graham's and Tillis' attitude: if Republicans don't care who the nominee is, why bother scrutinizing him or her?

I wrote an entire book about Republicans ignoring their governing responsibilities, prioritizing politics and power over policy, and even I'm taken aback by these GOP senators' indifference toward keeping up appearances.

Folks like Graham and Tillis aren't even pretending to care about their duties. According to Graham, they can go through the motions, but it will be a meaningless theatrical exercise that the party cares nothing about.