"Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule. Let the American people have a say when women's health and equal rights are on the line."
As the #MidtermsBeforeSCOTUS hashtag began to take off on Wednesday, that was how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded to the news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, a move that gives President Donald Trump the chance to nominate a second ultra-conservative justice and push the high court even further to the right.
"No nominee should be considered until AFTER the election."
—Sen. Jeff Merkley The "McConnell rule" Warren cites is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's infamous 2016 declaration that no Supreme Court justice can be confirmed during an election year—a completely fabricated directive that allowed McConnell to steal a high court pick from former President Barack Obama.
After McConnell declared that he plans to hold a vote on Kennedy's replacement this fall, Democrats are attempting to use the so-called "McConnell rule" to stop any attempt by Trump to nominate a virulently right-wing nominee who would give the Supreme Court's conservative wing the power to tear down abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
Here it is, plain and simple.
McConnell set the rule.
Now, he and Senate Republicans need to follow it.
No vote on a Supreme Court nominee until after the new Congress is seated.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 27, 2018
Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it would be "the absolute height of hypocrisy" for Republicans to vote on a court nominee before the crucial 2018 midterms.
"Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016: Not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year," Schumer added. "Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president's nominee and their voices deserve to be heard."
Schumer's demand was echoed by several other senators immediately following Kennedy's retirement announcement on Wednesday.
"No nominee should be considered until AFTER the election," wrote Sen. Jeff Merkley on Twitter.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) opted to quote McConnell's words directly:
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) June 27, 2018
Given that, as Vox's Matt Yglesias writes, McConnell "doesn't care" that he is a massive hypocrite or that his own words are now being used against him, activists argued that Democrats are going to have to "stiffen their spines" and stop playing nice if they are to ensure that no Trump nominee gets a vote before November's elections.
Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court by the GOP illegally blocking Merrick Garland. The Dems need to stiffen their spines and BLOCK any nomination until Garland is seated. Period. #NoSurrender #nojusticenojustices! @TheDemocrats @DNC
— Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) June 27, 2018
"There are just a few months until the midterms," noted political commentator and radio host David Pakman. "Democrats should block ALL SCOTUS confirmation hearings until voters have had a chance to have their voices heard in the midterms."