According to the journalists at NBC’s Today, a Hillary Clinton operative is the perfect person to weigh in on replacing conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Co-host Craig Melvin brought on Ron Klain to blast Republicans for declaring that a new president would pick the next judge, not Obama.
Klain’s bias was so slanted Melvin felt the need to note, “Full disclosure here this morning, you're working with the Clinton campaign this election cycle. We want to make sure folks know that.” An outraged Klain complained, “What the Republicans are proposing is an unprecedented three branch gridlock of the federal government. They say the President shouldn't nominate someone. They say the Supreme Court should remain deadlocked at 4-4 for two terms.”
Speaking of Scalia, co-host Erica Hill dismissed, “Many people would forget, given how divisive in some ways his decisions could be, that he was unanimously confirmed. ” She wondered, “But when President Obama goes into this process, if he in fact nominates someone as he said he will, what is your advice?”
Klain, who also worked for the Obama administration, lectured, “He's going to pick the person who he thinks will be the best justice for the Supreme Court. And then the Senate should do its job.” One might wonder what advice Scalia might have. Fox News Sunday has the answer. Chris Wallace played this 2012 clip on what the justice wanted in a replacement:
CHRIS WALLACE: You're 76 years old. Will you time your retirement so that a more conservative president can appoint a like-minded justice?
ANTONIN SCALIA: I would not like to be replaced by someone who immediately sets about undoing everything that I've tried to do for 25 years, 26 years. Sure. But, I mean, I shouldn't have to tell you that. Unless you think I'm a fool.
A transcript of the Today segment is below:
CRAIG MELVIN: Ron Klain clerked in the Supreme Court. He was White House counsel to both Presidents Clinton and Obama on their administration’s Supreme Court nominations. Full disclosure here this morning, you're working with the Clinton campaign this election cycle. We want to make sure folks know that. You spent two years clerking at the high court there in D.C. His conservative legacy is well known, well established at this point. What was he like as a person?
RON KLAIN: Well, you know, I never agreed with Justice Scalia on almost anything, but he was an inconsiderably warm person. He loved the back and forth of debate. Even in the years after I left the court, when I ran into him, he and I had public exchange about Bush V. Gore, he was always very warm and kind. I think he leaves behind a personal level a wonderful legacy as a family man and beloved mentor to generations of Supreme Court clerks who worked for him and for whom he was a key influence in their lives.
ERICA HILL: We've mentioned this morning, and Pete Williams just mentioned, many people would forget, given how divisive in some ways his decisions could be, that he was unanimously confirmed. Is there — This is going to be a little bit different this time around to fill his seat. But when President Obama goes into this process, if he in fact nominates someone as he said he will, what is your advice? You helped other presidents do this.
KLAIN: Well, look, what the Republicans are proposing right now is an unprecedented three branch gridlock of the federal government. They say the President shouldn’t nominate someone. They say the Supreme Court should remain deadlocked at 4-4 for two terms. That's never happened before. That's not what should happen now. The President should and will fulfill his constitutional obligation to nominate someone and then the Senate should give that person a fair hearing and make a judgment on that person's individual merits and qualifications.
HILL: But should the President be looking for something else? A person who maybe Merrick Garland is a name that has come up a lot, a person that is easier to get through the Senate.
KLAIN: What I know about President Obama, having worked with him on the Sotomayor and Kagan nomination, is that he takes this responsibility very seriously. He taught constitutional law at the university of Chicago. He is a real constitutional scholar himself. He's going to pick the person who he thinks will be the best justice for the Supreme Court. And then the Senate should do its job. Look, they have the right to vote up, down, reject, approve, the president's nominee. That is their job. But it is their responsibility to do that job, to give the person a fair hearing, to let the person make their case, and then to judge that person based on the case they make before the Senate.
MELVIN: Ron Klain, thanks for coming in on a Sunday morning.