Neither political party can lay claim to purity when it comes to hypocrisy, but Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as others in her party, has taken hypocrisy to new depths.
While campaigning in Wisconsin before next week’s presidential primary, Clinton said that as president she would have a litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee. “I would not appoint someone who didn’t think Roe v. Wade is settled law,” she declared. Her nominee(s) would also have to show that they support overturning the Citizens United decision that established free speech rights for interest groups.
She added that while she believes the Senate should hold hearings and a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, she would have selected someone more like Justice Sonya Sotomayor because Clinton thinks her Hispanic heritage and underprivileged upbringing has brought a needed perspective to the high court.
What about the Constitution? It seems that for the left, the Constitution is only a temporary impediment until they can appoint judges who believe the founding document is more elastic than a waistband and can be stretched to fit their agenda.
About Hillary Clinton’s claim that Roe is settled law, was Plessy vs. Ferguson “settled law”? That 7-1 decision in 1896 established “the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’” It remained in force for nearly 60 years until the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling overturned it. Roe is 43 years old. By the Plessy standard, should Roe really be considered settled law?
As for Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Republican senators who refuse to schedule hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination, as a senator from New York, she took a contrary position.
In 2005, Sen. Clinton said the Senate had a right to reject a president’s nominee: “I believe this is one of the most important roles the Senate plays. This, after all, is in the Constitution. We are asked to give advice and consent, or to deny advice and consent.”
Denial is implied, but not written in the Constitution. What the Constitution does not require is for the Senate to hold hearings, or vote, on a court nominee.
At a Democrat town hall last month, Chuck Todd of MSNBC asked Hillary Clinton about President Obama’s statement that he regrets as a senator filibustering Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination when George W. Bush was president. Todd noted that Clinton joined 24 other Senate Democrats in a filibuster against Alito’s nomination and ultimately voted against Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.
Her response? “You get to use the rules.”
Well, yes, and while not holding hearings on Judge Garland is not a rule, it might be considered on a par with a filibuster designed to delay and, on some occasions, prevent a vote.
Add to this the policy of the Democratic Party leadership which has, according to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden, a lengthy and established “tradition against acting on Supreme Court nominations in a presidential year.”
Let’s also recall the words of the likely next Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer (D-NY), who said in a July 2007 speech that the “presumption of confirmation” for any more nominees to the Supreme Court during the remainder of President Bush’s term should be reversed, because the court, according to Schumer, “is dangerously out of balance.” In short, not liberal enough.
The fabled goose and gander analogy seems to apply here, but many voters have proven to have short attention spans and an ignorance of history, which might explain why a recent Pew Research Center poll found that 46 percent of Americans surveyed want Judge Garland confirmed, while 30 percent oppose him.
If Pew surveyed those same people today and read them what Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer said then and now, how many would call them hypocrites? How many would possibly change their minds about Judge Garland? I guess we’ll never know.
Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.