I do not typically respond to comments by other readers about my columns, but the letter submitted by Stephen Maseda (June 23, “De Bree Brushes Over Facts”) so misrepresents what I said, that I feel a reply is in order.
In my column (June 6, “Supreme Court, a Strange Case of Political Football’), I lamented Sen. Mitch McConnell’s apparent hypocrisy with respect to Supreme Court nominations in the year preceding a presidential election.
Mr. Maseda incorrectly stated that I compared the current situation to the Clarence Thomas nomination. I merely mentioned that, AFTER Justice Thomas was confirmed, Sen. Joe Biden proposed a rule that was substantively identical to the actions undertaken by McConnell in the Merrick Garland nomination. Mr. Maseda incorrectly claims that my assertion of rule changing “relies” on the Thomas confirmation. I never stated or concluded that.
Mr. Maseda then asked whether there is a distinction between a president withdrawing a troubled nomination and the Senate refusing to consider the nomination. The problem with this reasoning is that Merrick Garland was NOT a troubled nominee. He was a legitimate candidate for the bench who was certainly less controversial than several other nominees; so yes, there is a distinction.
As to the assertion of my “apparent belief that the Senate must vote to confirm a nominee,” Mr. Maseda again put words into my mouth. Obviously, there is no constitutional mandate to vote. Clearly Congress can do whatever it wants, including spending the entire session playing tiddlywinks. However, such dysfunctional behavior shirks congressional responsibility and is inconsistent with the expectations of the founding fathers.
Mr. Maseda seeks to justify the current behavior by citing instances of the Democrats’ “shabby history” of treating Republican nominees. I happen to agree that some Republican nominees have been subjected to improper treatment. However, over the past couple of years, the Republicans increasingly justify their imprudent behavior by saying they are merely following the Democrats’ precedent. This junior-high mindset is unacceptable. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
His final argument appears to be that the ends justify the means, citing the desire to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He stated that we can only solve the abortion issue through “a debate among the people” which he equated to the “legislative process.” Most recent polls show that more than 60% of Americans support the Roe decision, so debate among the people would likely not result in overturning Roe.
Since that is not the result Sen. McConnell seeks, the senator restricted debate to the confirmation process of nominees who will likely vote to overturn Roe. Apparently, Mr. Maseda believes that this position somehow justifies congressional failure to fulfill its responsibility to confirm a qualified candidate with a potentially differing view.
Congress certainly is afforded the privilege of acting in the manner defended by Mr. Maseda. I concluded my column with a Dwight D. Eisenhower quote, “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
This applies to everyone regardless of their political affiliation and it is especially applicable to our leaders.
Jim de Bree, Valencia