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Supreme Court building. February 7, 2007. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/LEGAL TIMES. U.S. Supreme Court building. (Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has failed to follow a consistent, rational approach to Supreme Court appointments.  Before 2016, the well-established custom was that the entire Senate was given the opportunity to provide advice and consent on all Supreme Court nominees, even during the last year of a presidential term.  That, of course, all changed in March 2016 with Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland when Republican members of the Judiciary Committee announced a new policy that Supreme Court nominees would not receive consideration during the final year of the President’s term.  They claimed it was necessary to “give the people a voice,” and that this could only be accomplished by withholding holding a seat on the Court vacant until a new President came to power.  Four years later, that policy has been reversed in another abuse of power and political shell game by the Republican leadership in the Senate.  The same Republican leadership that refused to allow a vote on Judge Garland, because his nomination occurred eight months before the 2016 election, has now forced a vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, five weeks before this election with voting already underway. There is no legitimate rationale at work here — it is pure hypocrisy in service of raw political power.

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