Antonin Scalia, God rest his soul even though it was corroded like an old car battery, remains dead, and President Obama needs to pick a replacement on the Supreme Court. House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed today that the GOP members of Congress will support their friends in the Senate as they block the shit out of whoever Obama nominates.

Ryan told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that yeah, of course they’re all going to make this difficult:

“We are knee deep into a presidential election and I think the precedent for not filling a Supreme Court vacancy in such a time is justified,” said Ryan, referring to the hotly disputed question of whether the Senate’s refusal to take up a nomination with nearly a year remaining in the Barack Obama presidency is consistent with Constitutional and political traditions.

Senate Republicans have said they essentially plan to just ignore anybody Obama nominates and refuse to vote on a Scalia successor. (Mitch McConnell said it an hour after Scalia died, actually.)

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In the Atlantic, Ron Fournier writes that he believes that’s been the plan for a while in the event of a SCOTUS death, citing some unnamed GOP consultants he’s been talking to. One of them said his group wouldn’t allow “our guys”—“their” politicians, he means—to vote on a nominee:

“We won’t let our guys vote,” he replied. “[President Obama’s] nominee will be dead on arrival.”

What I took from this exchange is that long before Scalia’s death, the game was rigged against Obama—or at least, that’s the impression that this GOP consultant and the others who replied wished to convey. They told me they had been game-planning the death of a Supreme Court justice for months. They declined to be identified, citing their clients’ wishes to keep their obstructionist strategies under wraps until it’s in their best interest to disclose them. Even then, they’re likely to reveal their role only to the donors who support the groups. They considered several scenarios and strategies, all aimed at punting the next high-court pick to Obama’s successor, who they hope will be a Republican.

Ryan also told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that “Democrats would be doing exactly the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot,” meaning they’d want to stall if a Republican was in office. “I think everyone is going to make spin that benefits their side. I think it’s pretty obvious,” said the Speaker.

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That’s true, although as Fournier wrote, Democrats might be more “artful” about it. Fox News correctly pointed out that Senator Chuck Schumer said in 2007 that Bush nominees shouldn’t be confirmed to the Supreme Court “except in extraordinary circumstances”:

SCOTUS Blog, which writes about the Supreme Court, pointed out earlier today that in the past, we’ve managed to fill Supreme Court vacancies during election years. We will likely never be able to do that again, but at least we were— at some point in our nation’s history—capable of getting basic legislative stuff done.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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