The Republican argument for immediately nominating and confirming a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now stripped of all pretext. It’s about raw power. In fact, it can be boiled down to three words – “Elections have consequences.” The Republicans won the presidency in 2016, they held the Senate in 2018, and there is nothing unconstitutional or illegal about wielding that power now, even when Americans are already voting in a presidential election that will end in less than seven weeks.
The argument has a certain Machiavellian simplicity about it. But there’s a problem – if you’d listened to Republicans speak before this moment, including just four short years ago, this raw power politics appears new. When they blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, they claimed a neutral principle was at stake. Their argument? When an election looms, let the people decide.