Durbin Dismisses Hypocrisy on SCOTUS Vote: ‘Come On ... Get Real’

The senator complains after a clip is played of him demanding the Senate vote on Merrick Garland

July 8, 2018

Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) on Sunday dismissed charges of hypocrisy for changing his position on the necessity of filling Supreme Court vacancies in response to a clip of him demanding a vote on Judge Merrick Garland in 2016.

Now, Durbin is demanding the opposite, saying President Donald Trump‘s nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy must not have a vote until after the 2018 midterm elections. "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd played a clip of Durbin in 2016 decrying the eight-person Supreme Court, but Durbin said "come on" in response.

The clip showed Durbin saying "major legal questions are hanging in limbo" because the Court had eight justices, and he blamed the inconsistency on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).

"I asked Senator McConnell when Kennedy made his announcement whether he was going to be consistent. He said, during the course of the vacancy at the end of the Obama presidency, let's wait and let the people decide in an election," Durbin said. "I asked Senator McConnell, 'Are you going to use the same standard this go around?' Obviously, he is not."

"I understand you want to point out hypocrisy on McConnell's side, but there is hypocrisy for you, too," Todd said. "If it was wrong in 2016, is it wrong now?"

"Come on, Chuck, get real," Durbin replied. "Senator McConnell invented this new rule and wouldn't consider a meeting with Merrick Garland."

Todd then asked what Democrats could have done differently to help Garland reach the Court, and the senator argued that "the fix was in" to stop Garland. Durbin said they couldn’t have stopped McConnell, owing to the Republican majority he still enjoys.

"I'm not sure we could have changed it," Durbin said. "When it reached the point where the Senate Republican leader refused to even meet with the nominee of President Obama, a man extremely well qualified, it was clear that the fix was in."

He decried the way Justice Neil Gorsuch has "voted in lockstep with the Republican, conservative side" and defended what former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, did to get rid of the judicial filibuster. Reid changed Senate rules to allow a bare majority to confirm federal judges in 2013, and in 2017 McConnell extended that rule to apply to the Supreme Court.

"I think at that time, Harry Reid faced an impossible decision," Durbin said.

Durbin is one of many Democrats who opposed blocking a vote on Garland but now demand Trump's nominee not receive a vote until after the midterms.