As the possibility of a brokered presidential nomination looms for Republicans, the GOP's chairman ironically says President Obama is doing "a disservice to voters" by nominating a replacement for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
Obama's announcement Wednesday that he's nomination Merrick Garland, the highly-repeated chief judge on the D.C. appeals court, was immediately rejected by Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus as a move that "denies the American people a voice in this process."
The U.S. constitution makes it the president's responsibility to nominate justices and the senate's duty to confirm of reject them. But GOP leaders gave notice within hours of Scalia's sudden death in February that they would not consider anyone nominated by Obama since he only had 11 months left in office.
"President Obama's decision to nominate a Supreme Court Justice denies the American people a voice in this process," said Priebus.
He echoed the argument of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said a president in his last year has no right to choose a justice who would serve for life.
"For more than eighty years, there has not been a nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice in a presidential election year and now is not the time to break with bipartisan practice," Priebus said. "Democrats' willingness to cast aside nearly a century of precedent only exposes how eager they are to advance the political agenda of a lame duck president."
The 2016 presidential election should be a referendum on what kind of Superme Court justice should be picked, the argument implies.
"When Americans head to the polls in a few short months, they will have a unique opportunity to determine the direction of the court - President Obama is doing a disservice to voters with this attempt to tip the balance of the court with a liberal justice in the eleventh hour of his presidency," he said. "We will not stand by idly while President Obama attempts to install a liberal majority on the court to further undermine our Constitution and protect his lawless actions."
Ironically, the same Republican establishment leaders have been wringing their hands over how to stop non-establishment candidate Donald Trump from getting their party's presidential nomination at its Cleveland convention in July. Secret meetings have been held by major party donors and officials to discuss ways of denying Trump the nomination.
Trump won four of five primaries Tuesday, but was stopped in Ohio by John Kasich. That loss raised the chances that he would not have the 1,237 pledged delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. This would create an open convention in which another person who either failed in the primaries or did not compete to become the GOP presidential nominee.
A brokered convention could -- to borrow a phrase from Chairman Priebus -- "deny the American people a voice in this process."