During Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd interviewed Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois. A majority of the conversation focused on the Supreme Court vacancy and how Democrats would attempt to prevent President Trump from putting his pick on the bench. For the past two years, the Democrats have done their best to make sure that Republicans do not forget that they failed to hold hearings for Barack Obama's 2016 choice, Merrick Garland.
Todd teed up Durbin by playing a clip of the Senator from September 2016 arguing that the Senate should confirm Garland: “In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will start its new term with eight justices. We need nine. Major legal questions are hanging in limbo because the Court is deadlocked on 4-4 votes.” Todd asked Durbin, “There’s been some talk among some of your colleagues for Democrats to push for a delay until after the election. Obviously, you didn’t like that in 2016. Where are you on this?”
Durbin made it perfectly clear where he stands on the Democrats’ “talk” of pushing for a delay, saying “Well, I asked Senator McConnell when Kennedy made his announcement whether he was going to be consistent. He said during the course of the vacancy at the end of the Obama Presidency, let’s wait and let the people decide in an election."
Todd then pressed Durbin on the hypocrisy of the Senate Democrats, who now argue that a vote on President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy should wait until after the midterm elections after complaining when Senate Republicans decided not to hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme court nominee in 2016: “I understand that, but where are you on this now? Do you want it delayed? I understand you want to point out hypocrisy on McConnell’s side but there’s hypocrisy on your side on this too, right?"
Senator Durbin obviously did not appreciate that line of questioning, snapping back: “Well, come on, Chuck. Get real. Senator McConnell invented this new rule, and wouldn’t even consider a meeting with Merrick Garland……And now he’s saying we’ve got to hurry through here and get this done before the election. Totally inconsistent. He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time. The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage.”
Todd also asked Durbin if he regretted then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to abolish the filibuster for lower court nominees in 2013, bringing up how that led to the “slippery slope” that led Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Durbin justified Reid’s actions, citing the “impossible situation” he faced where Republicans kept filibustering President Obama’s nominees for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Towards the end of the discussion, Todd brought up the fact that voting against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee “could cost you red state senators.” Durbin seemed to imply that stopping President Trump’s nominee was a higher priority than securing the re-election prospects of red state Democratic Senators.
According to Durbin, “They understand it’s an historic decision. It’s about more than the next election. It’s about what country the United States of America is going to chart as its course in the future on this Supreme Court. I think each and every one of them take that seriously…It goes beyond the next election.”
Durbin’s appearance on Meet the Press proves that the Senate Democrats have no desire to give President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing. For once, a member of the legacy media, who sympathizes with the Democrats’ every agenda item, actually called them on it.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
Meet the Press
CHUCK TODD: So what is the Democratic Party strategy in the Senate? You have… you can do the math. You know you have 49 Democratic Senators. First let me ask you this. Is everybody going to be united?
SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I can’t say that until the President announces his nominee. Obviously, each Senator understands this is an historic decision. It will decide the future of this Court for a generation or more, and so I know they’ll look carefully at each nominee. I can’t predict how all of my 49 or 48 colleagues in the Senate on the democratic side. I will tell you, though, simple math tells you, if John McCain is absent, it’s a 50-49 Senate. One Republican Senator can decide the fate of any Supreme Court nominee.
TODD: In 2016…I’m going to play a quote of yours in September of 2016 about that… the other Supreme Court vacancy that we were dealing with back then. Here’s what you said.
DURBIN: In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will start its new term with eight justices. We need nine. Major legal questions are hanging in limbo because the Court is deadlocked on 4-4 votes.
TODD: There’s been some talk among some of your colleagues for Democrats to push for a delay until after the election. Obviously, you didn’t like that in 2016. Where are you on this?
DURBIN: Well, I asked Senator McConnell when Kennedy made his announcement whether he was going to be consistent. He said during the course of the vacancy at the end of the Obama Presidency, let’s wait and let the people decide in an election. Many of his colleagues came to the floor on the Republican side and said the people of this country are going to vote. They’ll decide the future of the Supreme Court. Well, I asked Senator McConnell, are you going to use the same standard this go-around? And obviously, he is not. The net result of that, of course, is that we are going to move
forward quickly to fill the vacancy, and I think it’s pretty clear Senator McConnell was seizing the moment, stopping Obama from filling the vacancy with an extraordinarily qualified man.
TODD: I understand that, but where are you on this now? Do you want it delayed? I understand you want to point out hypocrisy on McConnell’s side but there’s hypocrisy on your side on this too, right? Do you think…if it was wrong to delay in 2016, is it wrong to delay now?
DURBIN: Well, come on, Chuck. Get real. Senator McConnell invented this new rule, and wouldn’t even consider a meeting with Merrick Garland…
TODD: …I take your point.
DURBIN: …And now he’s saying we’ve got to hurry through here and get this done before the election. Totally inconsistent. He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time. The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage.
TODD: What did you guys do wrong in the Merrick Garland situation? If you could redo it, how would you do it?
DURBIN: I’m not sure we could have changed it. When it reached the point where the Senate Republican Leader refused to even meet with the nominee of President Obama, a man extremely well-qualified, it was clear that the fix was in. They were going to keep this vacant in the hopes they could put a Republican in the White House. It happened. And now Neil Gorsuch, chosen by the Federalist Society as well, has gone to the bench, is voting in lockstep on the Republican conservative side. And they want to fill this vacancy to give them an advantage on any future rulings.
TODD: I’ve got to ask you, though, now going backwards even before Garland, let’s go to the Harry Reid decision back in 2013, when you, when you decided to scrap it for everything but the Supreme Court, the filibuster. There were predictions this would be slippery slope, and here we go. In hindsight, mistake?
DURBIN: I think at that time Harry Reid faced an impossible decision. They had announced…the Republicans had announced they would not fill the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a critical court, second only to the Supreme Court in its importance. They were facing all of these filibusters day after day, jurist after jurist, and Harry Reid made this decision. He did make an exception for the Supreme Court, which Mitch McConnell swept away. Chuck, let me tell you, though. We look at this decision in general terms and talk about the process. But let’s get down to the heart of it. This Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not people and families with preexisting conditions can have access to affordable health insurance. That’s it. It’s real. And it’s a constitutional challenge by the Trump Administration this court will face.