My McConnell Story

About a year into my first Senate term, I had a run-in with Mitch McConnell. I was presiding when McConnell rose to give his remarks on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As Minority Leader, he gave the final argument against her nomination, part of which went as follows:

No one has any doubt that Ms. Kagan is bright and personable and easy to get along with. But the Supreme Court is not a social club. If getting along in polite society were enough reason to put someone on the Supreme Court, then we wouldn’t need a confirmation process at all.

Understand that Justice Kagan had been the first female solicitor general in U.S. history, arguing the Obama administration’s side before the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court was the “polite society” that McConnell was talking about, then… well, you’d still need a confirmation process.

Oh, and prior to being solicitor general, she was the first female dean of Harvard Law School.

So, I laughed at what McConnell said. And rolled my eyes.

Mitch didn’t like that, so when he finished his speech, he approached the dais and, raising his voice for the press gallery behind me to hear, blurted out, “This is not ‘Saturday Night Live!’”

I was in the doghouse. A freshman Senator doesn’t laugh, roll his eyes, and smirk at the Minority Leader. Yes, I think I also smirked.

So, I wrote an apology note and brought it to his office. McConnell later told the press that he had accepted my apology.

That was big of him, I guess. And I don’t hold any of it against Mitch.

But I do hold the fact that he stole the Supreme Court. 

When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace him. Then Majority Leader, McConnell decided that his caucus wouldn’t take him up:

The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for consideration. The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.

So, in an unprecedented move, the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to have hearings for Garland.

But when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in the middle of September 2020, Majority Leader McConnell rushed Amy Coney Barrett through. She was sworn in eight days before the election.  

McConnell stole two seats on the Supreme Court. Instead of a 6-3 conservative majority, we would have a 5-4 liberal majority. That’s much more than Roe v. Wade. That’s unraveling the administrative state that does all the stuff we care about — West Virginia v. EPA, for example.


P.S. Oh, and McConnell also could have ended Trump’s political career by instructing his caucus to vote to convict him in the impeachment trial. There’s that

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