Judge not, that you be not judged, says the Scripture, but that passage is taking on a new meaning after the recent death of a spectacularly great jurist, Justice Antonin Scalia.

To the surprise of many, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky seems to be serious (and hardly “weak” at all) about taking “judge not” as a semi-divine command when it comes to letting President Obama fill the vacancy Scalia’s demise has left on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” McConnell told host George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton apparatchik and Clinton Foundation donor (but Fox is the biased network, remember) that he would not schedule any hearings or votes on Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

“The tradition,” McConnell said, “has been in a presidential election year that the next president after the American people have weighed in gets to make the decision.”

And then he laid out the history: “Look, the way Supreme Court justices have been handled in presidential election years is very clear. It’s been 80 years since a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled. You have to go back to 1888, Grover Cleveland was in the White House, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential year on the Supreme Court was confirmed by a Senate controlled by the party different from the president.

“So we know what the tradition is. Joe Biden in 1992, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, laid down the Biden Rule. He said when the campaign is underway, no Supreme Court judge would be confirmed.


“And in 2005, (then-Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid said, under the Constitution, the Senate doesn’t even have an obligation to give a vote to a nominee. And (New York Sen.) Chuck Schumer, who will be the Democratic leader next year, said 18 months before the 2008 election the Democratic Senate would not confirm a Supreme Court vacancy … .”

Why wait? Because it’s the (lower-case) democratic thing to do.

As McConnell noted, “George, the American people are in the middle of choosing who the next president is going to be. And that next president ought to have this appointment, which will affect the Supreme Court, for probably a quarter of a century.”

To that, Stephanopoulos noted, “But they elected President Obama.”

However, McConnell responded, that was not the most recent time the people had a chance to speak.

“The last time the American people voted was in 2014 and they elected a Republican Senate. And under the Constitution, we have shared responsibility. This is not something he does alone. He nominates. We confirm. The last time the American people spoke in 2014 they gave us nine additional net seats, and we took over the U.S. Senate.”


That some Republican senators, such as Mark Kirk of Illinois, have said that they would hold a hearing on Garland, doesn’t mean anything. McConnell does the scheduling, and as long as he says “no hearings,” no hearings will be held.

Now, will he hold firm to that until November? Beats me. But if not, he really would be exposed as weak – indeed, one of the weakest leaders Washington has ever seen (even including Jimmy Carter).

McConnell has critics beyond left-wingers, however. Prominent conservative columnist George Will says that stonewalling Garland’s nomination is mere obstructionism and an unworthy example of tit-for-tat revenge for Democrats’ deep-sixing the nominations of well-qualified jurists such as Robert Bork and Miguel Estrada.

Further, Will asks, do opponents believe that a President Trump would nominate someone better?

McConnell’s allies reply that even the chance of keeping a nominee off the bench who would cement progressives’ control of the court for a generation is worth taking. And, yes, there is a possibility a Trump appointment could be a decent one.

And one by President Cruz could be even better.



I saw this too late for last week’s column, but it’s too good an example of “virtue-signaling” (taking purely symbolic stands to gain undeserved praise) to let pass.

Last Saturday, left-wing groups sponsored a campaign for people to turn off all their electric lights and appliances from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to honor something called “Earth Hour,” apparently to mark a global warming protest.

This is too rich. Can they not see how revealing it is to let everything useful, the chief advances of our civilization, be shut off so they can all sit around in the dark?

Naturally, conservatives encouraged people to turn on all their lights and other appliances to mark “Human Achievement Hour” as a time to celebrate actual progress instead of “progressive” neo-Dark Age retrogression.

People who actually live in the 21st century can see that it’s far better to light one bulb than bless the darkness.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:


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