Ted Cruz’s dubious claim that GOP didn’t “rig” SCOTUS confirmations
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joined his Republican colleagues last week in criticizing Democratic measures that would expand the nine seats of the U.S. Supreme Court to 13.
“You didn’t see Republicans when we had control of the Senate try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court,” Cruz told reporters outside the Supreme Court building on April 22.
Cruz was referring to the political combat that took place in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death in 2016. During his presidential bid, Cruz highlighted the importance of having a Republican president whose appointments could give the Supreme Court a conservative lean.
Following Scalia’s death, Cruz declared the 2016 presidential election a “referendum on the Supreme Court” and joined Senate Republicans in blocking any nomination put forth by President Barack Obama. They blocked Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for more than a year, arguing that the American public had a right to weigh in first via the election. (Garland is now serving as Biden’s attorney general.)
Four years later, Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, raced to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the court after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just weeks before the 2020 election.
In other words, McConnell used divergent approaches to the Garland and Barrett nominations to benefit the Republicans.
When asked why the GOP’s actions don’t qualify as partisan gamesmanship, Cruz’s spokesperson Steve Guest doubled down on Cruz’s statement.
“Absolutely nothing was rigged by Republicans. Presidents nominate judges. The Senate gives or withholds advice and consent. Those are the rules and Republicans followed them,” Guest said.
As the Barrett nomination was under consideration, PolitiFact wrote Republicans did have the power to do what he did, but we gave McConnell a Full Flop for changing his position between 2016 and 2020.
In both cases, McConnell offered a justification that confirmations have proceeded when the presidency and the Senate are in unified control and have stalled when the two are under divided control. However, this isn’t a higher principle that led McConnell to his decision; it’s a cherry-picked, after-the-fact justification for the raw exercise of power he undoubtedly has…