GOP senator Ron Johnson tells the truth about Supreme Court obstruction

Having run out of contrived arguments for blocking President Obama’s nomination of a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senator Ron Johnson (R – WI) gave a refreshingly honest assessment of the situation in a radio interview yesterday.

As he explained, the Republican obstruction has nothing to do with precedent or principle and everything to do with power. If the current president was a Republican, the party would have no issue with letting that president appoint Scalia’s replacement during an election year.

Which he’s going to do all he can to hold out in hopes that the next president will be a Republican who will make an ideologically-consistent appointment.

From TalkingPointsMemo:

“It’s a different situation,” Johnson said. “Generally, and this is the way it works out politically, if you’re replacing — if a conservative president’s replacing a conservative justice, there’s a little more accommodation to it.”

“But when you’re talking about a conservative justice now being replaced by a liberal president who would literally flip the court — you know, let’s face it, I don’t think anybody’s under any illusion — President Obama’s nominee would flip the court from a 5-4 conservative to a 5-4 liberal controlled court,” the senator continued. “And that’s the concern, is that our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms, our First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty, will be threatened. And so it’s an incredibly serious moment in terms of what’s the composition of the court going to be.”

As it happens, pace Johnson, lots of people have at least pretended to be under some illusion that this issue turned on something other than the Court’s balance of power since moments after Scalia’s death. But it’s nice to hear Johnson drop the act and admit that the stakes really are higher than normal in this case, and it’s in the Republican Party’s best interest to do everything in their power to deny President Obama the opportunity to pick Scalia’s replacement. Even if it undermines all kinds of small-d democratic norms in the process.

Here’s the audio of Johnson’s exchange, via American Bridge:


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Gerald Parks

    Sad thing IS …the GOP/Republicans have been “governing” to make this conclusion a reality …since the 1980’s.

  • Ol’ Hippy

    The American political system has become so corrupt that we, the people, essentially have no representation left in congress. The GOP has shown they only work for the defense and energy industries. The Democrats are in the financial and trade corporate interests corner. So the average citizen is left with a growing US debt, by way of taxes, stagnating wages without any say in the “democratic” system. Something will have to give soon as the climate crisis becomes inescapable and the worker can’t support their family, and more war looming ahead. I don’t have an answer but things will change, and soon by all indices.

  • Gerald Parks

    Did you hear and/or read the transcript of Senator Warren’s comments regarding GOP/Republican obstruction on the Senate floor?

    If not goggle that stuff …IT will go down in history are one of the MOST accurate accounting of GOP/Republican governance 2009 -2016.

  • Rainbird

    Ron Johnson is really good at doing nothing. So not confirming a supreme court justice is easy for him.

  • Chuck Johnston

    Apparently, republicans believe the SCOTUS should be nothing more than a rubber stamp for their horrible agenda, and they are going to do everything in their power to make sure it stays that way.

  • crazymonkeylady

    The Truth is out there!

  • Chris Pease

    They can’t keep blocking it forever. I’m not a hundred percent sure. But I would think the president would be able to give an executive order or something

  • Chris Pease

    I am so disgusted with the GOP. It’s not even funny. We all make jokes about them. Share the funny memes. Which all have a truthful base to them. But we really need to get them out of power they’re doing nothing but destroying this country

  • LasloPratt

    Even more troubling is the clear implication that they view the Court as expressly political. (Yeah, I know – it’s always been a political body to some extent.) I’ve been saying for, golly, a dozen years at least that there is no longer a Supreme Court of the United States of America – it’s been replaced by the Supreme Court of the Republican Party. Apparently, our friends in the GOP have reached the same conclusion.

  • JimShea

    Some news reports claim Johnson said that if a Democrat is elected President in 2016, he and other Republicans will refuse to consider ANY nominees proposed by the next President. Is this true?

  • Badgerite

    Radical headline of the day: GOP Politician Tells the Truth. Story at 5.

  • Badgerite

    Good to see Feingold back in the mix. Fingers crossed.

  • Gerald Parks

    Yet ANOTHER stellar example of GOP/Republican governance in 21st Century America … massive unprecedented OBSTRUCTION of US government function and the duly TWICE ELECTED POTUS Barrack H Obama!

    The level of obstruction is reminiscent of the run up to US The Civil War … 3/5 of a presidential term?

  • The_Fixer

    Ol’ Dumb Ron Johnson let the cat out of the bag – D’oh! Either that or he figured that there’s very little reason to hang on to pretense as he has little chance of winning against Russ Feingold.

    Johnson is dumb. I don’t think that he actually decided to tell the truth, he just started blabbing without much thought. That’s how he operates – without much thought. I know that because I live in Wisconsin and have had to listen to his idiocy since he first decided to run for the Senate.

  • gratuitous

    Consider this, Sen. Johnson: There’s a pretty good chance you won’t have a seat in the next Senate, which will convene right after the New Year in 2017. Barack Obama will continue to be the President for another couple of weeks, and the Senate may no longer be controlled by Republicans.

    You could make the best available deal now, or you could stubbornly dig in your heels and helplessly watch the newest Justice appointed without any input from you or your nincompoop caucus. Your call.

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