When users reach a “404” page — basically, when you go to a part of the website that doesnt exist — it features a background of Judge Merrick Garland standing next to Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden.
McConnell boasts about blocking Merrick Garland weeks after complaining of Democratic obstruction
“Oops this page doesnt exist. But just in case, go donate and make sure it doesnt come back,” the McConnell website says.
Obama nominated Garland, who is considered a moderate on the federal bench, to fill a vacancy on the high court in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart.
But McConnell immediately declared that there would be no appointment by Obama given that it was a presidential election year. At the time, McConnells decision created a furor among Democrats in Washington and across the nation.
The seat was ultimately filled in 2017 by Justice Neil Gorsuch, after being nominated by President Donald Trump.
“He thought everybody would get a chuckle out of it,” Josh Holmes, a McConnell adviser, told the Courier Journal. “Sen. McConnell has always made it a practice to infuse a little humor into the rough and tumble world of politics.”
McConnell has made reshaping the federal courts a focal point of his legacy since Trump took office in 2017. Recently, the GOP leader detonated the so-called “nuclear option” in the Senate to make it easier to push through certain judicial and other low-level appointees.
After Justice Brett Kavanaugh ascended to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, McConnell said those turbulent confirmation hearings were, “the single most important thing Ive been involved in in my career.”
The Kentucky Republican has repeatedly defended his decision to keep Garland off the high court, which would have tilted it in a more liberal direction.
Former Marine pilot Amy McGrath and sports radio host Matt Jones are Democrats rumored to be considering a run against McConnell in 2020.
Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/philb.
The video features news clips from March 2016 about the then-open seat left vacant following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, as well as footage of President Barack Obama asking the Senate majority to give Garland a fair hearing, and McConnell refusing to do so.
“It is the president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice. And it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check,” McConnell says in a voiceover. “The next president may also nominate someone very different.”
Footage of Trump swearing in Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh follows, interspersed with clips of Fox News anchors recounting McConnell’s part in pushing them through the Senate.
The video ends with a video clip of Trump praising McConnell at a rally as “Kentucky tough,” and the words, “Kentucky leads.”
The video comes just weeks after McConnell penned an op-ed for Politico, in which he railed against “historic obstruction” and “partisan delays” from Democrats, and addressed his decision to shorten the amount of debate permitted on nominee confirmation votes in the Senate.
“Its been 354 days and counting in Senate purgatory for the presidents nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-hundred eighty-seven days and counting for the under secretary of state for management,” he wrote. “Noncontroversial lower court nominees have languished for weeks and weeks — for no discernible reason — before they, too, were confirmed unanimously. These are just a few examples of the historic obstruction Senate Democrats have visited upon President Trumps nominees for two years and counting.”
Speaking to his decision to shorten debate time on nominees, he added, “The status quo is unfair, unhealthy, and unsustainable. This president and all future presidents deserve a more functional process for building their administrations.”
McConnell’s own record of partisan obstruction is well-documented. Following Scalia’s death in 2016, McConnell ignored hundreds of years of precedent and refused to let the body even consider the nomination of Garland, instead announcing that the next president should get to decide. Garland did not receive a hearing in the Judiciary Committee and was not permitted a confirmation vote.
That move ultimately allowed Trump to nominate Justice Neil Gorsuch to the seat. When Gorsuch’s nomination failed to receive the required 60 votes to end debate, McConnell used the same “break the rules to change the rules” process, reducing the required vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to 51 and ramming the nomination through.
The majority leader has not slowed his pace since then. In Wednesday’s campaign video launch, McConnell features audio from an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, highlighting his record.
“Under President Trump, with you as majority leader, two Supreme Court justices have been confirmed and 26 judges have been put on circuit courts. That’s the fastest pace in history,” Wallace notes.