Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch took the brunt of the outrage over Tuesday’s decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Opponents of the ruling railed against the conservative judge’s appointment as an example of obstruction while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brushed off the accusations and took a victory lap.
“It just proves one thing,” Rep. Keith Ellison, D.-Minn., told CNN. “If you steal and rip off a Supreme Court justice (seat), then you can try to jam any kind of nasty, racist, ugly policy you can down the throats of the American people. … That’s what I feel.”
Ellison then made his feelings about Gorsuch clear.
“Gorsuch really should not be on the Supreme Court,” he said. “He may be there, but he’s not there properly. You know, you can do that. You can jam in a Supreme Court by denying a sitting president their right to appoint the Supreme Court justice. That is exactly what happened, and Gorsuch has just done what his paymasters sent him there to do. It’s a shame.”
McConnell’s camp, meanwhile, posted a photo of the senator shaking the hand of the man he helped put on the bench.
It was the Senate GOP leader who blocked President Barack Obama from filling the vacancy left after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016.
Scalia’s seat remained vacant for more than a year as McConnell stonewalled Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick for the high court. McConnell prevented the Senate from even holding committee hearings for Garland.
He later amended Senate rules that required 60 votes to break a filibuster on Supreme Court nominations, allowing Trump’s pick to move forward and give conservatives the majority in the nation’s highest court.
Critics on Tuesday blamed Republicans for tipping the scales of justice.
“Remember when everyone was civil and allowed Mitch McConnell to steal a Supreme Court seat? How’d that work out?” tweeted television producer Bill Prady.
Paul Musgrave, an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, folded recent conversations about civility into his critique.
“If I ran a restaurant and Mitch McConnell asked to be seated, I’d tell him to wait until after the next presidential election,” he wrote.
“As one after another 5-4 rulings of this SCOTUS on voting rights, abortion rights, the travel ban and more are announced, the full meaning of @SenMajLdr’s unconscionable, nearly yearlong blockade against the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland is manifest,” former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted.
Earlier Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled against a California law the required pregnancy crisis centers to provide patients with information about abortion. On Monday, the conservative majority upheld a Texas redistricting map that opponents said was discriminatory.
McConnell said Tuesday he was just doing his job as a lawmaker when he blocked Garland’s nomination.
“All I did was apply the Biden rule,” McConnell said.
The so-called “Biden rule” refers to a 1992 speech then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., gave urging his colleagues not to vote on a Supreme Court nominee until after the November elections that year.
McConnell has repeatedly called his successful efforts to stop Obama from appointing a more liberal-leaning Justice as the “most consequential decision” of his political career.
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