Within minutes of the first report of Justice Scalia’s death, partisan politics erupted. Questions were raised about whether President Obama would nominate a justice to replace Justice Scalia. The next wave of speculation was whether President Obama would make a recess appointment that night. Still others raised questions about whether President Obama could get a hard left candidate through the Senate confirmation hearings.
Monday night, Newt Gingrich went on the record with Greta van Susteren to talk about the confirmation process. His insight into the process is worth watching. Speaker Gingrich started by saying that “The language is important. The President doesn’t appoint. The president nominates. The Senate has to approve. The Senate’s not going to approve and ironically, it was Schumer, under George W. Bush, who said over a year out, we should block anybody except in the most extreme circumstances. It was Obama who tried to filibuster Alito so it’s pretty hard for them to come in now with a straight face.”
Later in the interview, Gingrich made this point:
As a left wing radical, [President Obama] is not going to nominate someone who is as conservative as Scalia and, as a conservative Senate, why should they accept anybody who is less conservative than Scalia?
Later, van Susteren asked how this would play out on the campaign trail. Here’s Speaker Gingrich’s response:
It guarantees that anyone who cares about the Second Amendment turns out to vote. I mean, the number of people who will turn out, when they realize that this could be the swing vote that could take away the right to bear arms, and it reminds them that Clinton and Sanders have this enormous potential of nominating a radical, and therefore, it will actually increase the intensity of the turnout.
Gingrich is one of the best strategists in the GOP. If Republicans running for re-election in the Senate and the GOP presidential nominee run on the fact that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would nominate radicals that would radically and negatively change the judiciary for a generation, GOP turnout would increase dramatically. The thought of Hillary Clinton nominating as many as 4 justices to the Supreme Court will have the NRA’s get out the vote operation humming at peak intensity.
That isn’t a tiny consideration. The NRA’s GOTV operation is one of the best in the business. When the NRA puts out the call, gun owners have a history of volunteering to help pro-Second Amendment candidates. Republicans already had an advantage when it came to the intensity gap. This will only increase that enthusiasm gap.
Every 4 years, columnists write about the importance of voting because the judiciary is in play. This year, people will actually pay attention to those columns because Justice Scalia’s tragic death has brought the subject to the forefront.