Expert Pitch
University of Redlands

Senate Majority Leader flips his own rule, resets terms for fairness on Supreme Court nomination schedule, U of R Professor says.

23-Sep-2020 6:35 PM EDT, by University of Redlands

"Presidents are authorized by the Constitution to nominate justices to the federal bench at any time, but in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed Pres. Obama that no nominee would be considered because it was an election year, despite almost nine months remaining until the general election. In so doing, he laid down a new, unwritten rule for the nomination process, a new "custom" fully in keeping with the Senate's penchant for informality, a norm possessing the force of policy that reset the terms for fairness.

"Fast forward four years, and McConnell has wiped away all pretense at fairness, and in a bold-faced political move that has stripped the argument of its former democratic overtures, has cleared the path for a nominee to be considered in possibly record time. Republican Senators appear willing to forego this recent "rule" in order to obtain their most desirable political end: a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court." 

Biography :
Renée Bukovchik Van Vechten, Ph.D., specializes in California and legislative politics and teaches courses in U.S. national institutions and public policy. She infuses her courses—such as Cal Politics, U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Presidency—with active learning elements. She the author of California Politics: A Primer, now in its 5th edition (Sage/CQ Press). Current projects involve developing a Food Politics textbook and an edited volume on internships in the discipline. Dr. Van Vechten is the recipient of multiple grants and awards for teaching, and is deeply engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning. She organizes teaching and learning events for WPSA and co-convened the first “Teaching & Learning Conference within a Conference” at APSA in 2018. She also serves on the Rogers Smith Presidential Task Force (2018-2020), and is a Council member of APSA, the American Political Science Association (for which she chairs the Teaching & Learning Policy Committee and sits on the Executive Board, 2017-19). She is an executive board member of Pi Sigma Alpha honor society, and frequently contributes to local and national political reports. Click the tabs below for more information.

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