Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters following the weekly policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol June 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

#MidtermsBeforeSCOTUS Takes Off as Democrats Told to 'Stiffen Their Spines'

"Here it is, plain and simple. McConnell set the rule. Now, he and Senate Republicans need to follow it."

Jake Johnson

"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.

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:

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.

"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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Citing Need for 'New, Inclusive Leadership,' Chuy García Files for Chicago Mayoral Race

"We have an opportunity to elect a trusted and experienced leader with a history of building coalitions and a vision for a brighter future for all Chicagoans," said the Democratic congressman.

Jessica Corbett ·


On Cyber Monday, Climate Activists Take Aim at Fashion Industry

"The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries globally. We can all do better, but it's on companies to make this industry better for workers, the planet, and consumers alike."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Accused of Selling Out Rail Workers by Urging Congress to Prevent Strike

"Biden is siding with corporate rail bosses over the rank-and-file workers who voted against this agreement," said one progressive commentator after the president urged lawmakers to take action to force through a deal without paid sick leave.

Brett Wilkins ·


Analysis Finds State Legislators Proposed 306 Bills Targeting Trans People in Past 2 Years

"Right-wing state lawmakers are obsessed with taking away the rights of trans people and we're obsessed with knocking them out of public office," said one rights group.

Julia Conley ·


Biden Mulls Sending Long-Range Missiles to Ukraine

While Ukrainians and supporters welcomed Boeing's proposal to arm Ukrainian forces with long-range precision-guided bombs, one anti-war voice accused the American military-industrial complex of "dictating the U.S. foreign policy and profiteering from wars."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo