Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement on Wednesday has prompted an immediate confirmation battle heading into the Fall mid-terms and is already having an impact on Tennessee’s Senate race.
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07), who is running to succeed Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), issued a statement shortly after Kennedy made his plans known and indicated her intent to support President Donald Trump’s nominee.
Blackburn called the confirmation of Supreme Court justices “one of the Senate’s most important responsibilities. As Tennessee’s next Senator, I will vote to confirm constitutional justices, who will follow the rule of law and do not legislate from the bench. It’s absolutely critical to confirm justices who understand the importance of upholding the Constitution, including the right to life.”
Former Democrat Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, was more equivocal about his approach to the Supreme Court vacancy, saying a candidate’s character and qualifications are more important than party lines. “I just think we have such a partisan mess in Washington right now,” Bredesen said. “This is a real chance to start unwinding that in something that is very visible and important to the country.”
Bredesen also issued a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, just hours after Kennedy announced his retirement.
“Not long ago, Senate judicial confirmations were free of openly partisan politics. Justices Scalia & Ginsburg each got 90+ votes. I’m going to vote for or against a nominee based solely on whether I believe them to be highly qualified & ethical, not based on partisan politics,” Bredesen said in the tweet:
Not long ago, Senate judicial confirmations were free of openly partisan politics. Justices Scalia & Ginsburg each got 90+ votes. I’m going to vote for or against a nominee based solely on whether I believe them to be highly qualified & ethical, not based on partisan politics. pic.twitter.com/NgzGQC8E4K
— Phil Bredesen (@PhilBredesen) June 27, 2018
Bredesen failed to note that Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45, mostly along party lines. Only three Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), sided with the GOP majority. All three of those Senators are facing re-election in 2018 in states that President Donald Trump carried by double digits in 2016. Many Democrats commenting on Bredesen’s Twitter account were openly hostile to the prospect that he might consider supporting a Trump nominee to the Court.
Notably, Bredesen has apparently never made a public statement about whether he supported or opposed the confirmation of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who recruited Bredesen to run for Corker’s Senate seat, is already calling on his fellow Democrats to reject any nominee who does not embrace abortion. Although Trump has not yet announced his selection of a replacement for Kennedy, liberal Democrats are already in a meltdown.
Will Bredesen have the courage to reject the overwhelming pressures of his political party should he be elected to the Senate, particularly when a next likely vacancy on the Court will probably be one of the liberal Justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Stephen Breyer?
Liberal Democrats who are in hysterics over the replacement of the moderate swing Justice Kennedy with a Gorsuch-like Constitutional conservative will be apoplectic at the prospects of seeing one of the reliably liberal justices replaced by a staunch conservative. There seems to be little, if any, evidence in Bredesen’s track record that indicates he actually would buck the Democratic Party leadership as a freshman Senator and cross the aisle to support a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court.
In fact, earlier in the day Wednesday, before issuing his tepid and carefully crafted statement, Bredesen completely avoided answering repeated questions from a Blackburn campaign volunteer about whether or not he would support a Trump nomination to replace Kennedy.