Since both the Senate and the presidency are held by Republicans right now, McConnell can claim that circumstances are different, but the hypocrisy is plain.
Unfortunately, hypocrisy isn’t mentioned in the US Constitution. The moral of this story is a different one: elections have consequences. Leaving aside the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost it to Donald Trump. He is the president and seems to have the political support — Republican control of the Senate — that seems likely to allow him this final appointment.
What the framers of the Constitution expected was that laws would be enacted under its guidance, and the public would judge their representatives by their actions. This is the crux of the issue for the Republicans. If they do push through a replacement for Ginsburg in the six weeks before the election, will they get away with it — i.e., not pay too high of a political price?
Right now, the GOP is precariously close to losing its Senate majority; far too many Republican incumbents, even in red states, are woefully vulnerable. Liberal fury will be further stoked. Independents, already clearly unhappy with this intemperate president’s actions in staving off the COVID-19 pandemic, will not be impressed as the death total heads past 200,000 lives.
The question for McConnell: is there an upside for the GOP in a transformative Supreme Court nomination?
Bill Wyman is a former assistant managing editor of NPR.