McCain tries to out-do Trump with radical pledge to obstruct Supreme Court


John McCain may have finally seen fit to unendorse Donald Trump, but that does not mean he intends to support Hillary Clinton. Quite the contrary. McCain has promised unprecedented obstructionism if she is elected.

Even though John McCain has pulled his support for Donald Trump, what he is now promising to do if Hillary Clinton is elected is every bit as dangerous, undemocratic, and unconstitutional as anything Trump has proposed.

But it is nothing new for the Republican Party.

Congressional Republicans famously met in secret on the night of Barack Obama's first inauguration to pledge their unyielding obstruction to his agenda. In the heat of the 2016 campaign, it is easy to forget that they are still hard at work fulfilling that pact.

The 215+ days Senate Republicans have left the late Justice Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat vacant is the longest such period in our history.

And in an interview with Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano, McCain pledged to keep that vacancy going indefinitely should Clinton become president:

I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you. This is where we need the majority and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered.

Senate Republicans have previously maintained that they wanted whoever won the election to nominate a new justice. McCain is now proposing that if Clinton wins, but the GOP retains their majority in the Senate, they will go four to eight years without confirming any Supreme Court justices. And if the Democrats take the majority, Republicans will filibuster all Court nominees.

If the Republicans carry out McCain's threat, the current 4-4 deadlock on the Court would only be broken by whichever vacancy occurs next. Thus, by the end of Hillary Clinton's presidency, the Supreme Court may be comprised of only seven justices — or even fewer. And the obstructionism is highly unlikely to end there, if Obama's two terms are any indication.

It is meaningless symbolism for a Republican congressperson to disavow or repudiate Trump for his ignorant statements, horrid behavior, and complete ignorance of how government is supposed to function, if they intend to react to a Clinton victory in ways that are equally damaging and imprudent.

Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Judiciary Act of 1869 specifies what should be done if the number of Supreme Court justices falls below the required quorum of six.

Clearly, no one involved in the creation of these rules anticipated a United States Senate that would refuse to recognize the authority of a president to perform his or her constitutional duties.