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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ignore the Polling on Who Should Replace Ginsburg

Not even 24 hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, multiple media outlets were telling us that on the question of who they prefer to replace Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, voters prefer Joe Biden to President Trump.

The Fox News headline Saturday afternoon declared that “52% trust Biden over Trump on Supreme Court picks.” The Fox News question on the Supreme Court was included in its regular Trump-Pence vs. Biden-Harris poll and was conducted days prior to Ginsburg’s death. The Fox poll gave Biden a 52%-45% edge on who people trust “to do a better job on…SCOTUS nominations.”

On early Saturday afternoon, a New York Times headline read, “Polls Have Shown Voters Prefer Biden to Pick Next Justice.” The Times article reported on the Fox poll and also reported on its own New York Times/Siena College three-state poll. The Times article states, “In Times/Siena polls of Maine, North Carolina and Arizona released Friday, voters preferred Mr. Biden to select the next Supreme Court justice by 12 percentage points, 53 percent to 41 percent.”

A Saturday headline at The Hill read, “Majority of voters say Trump should not nominate a Supreme Court justice.” This article reports on “a snap poll released Saturday by YouGov.” According to The Hill,

The poll found that 51 percent of voters believe Trump should not nominate another justice this year, while 42 percent said he should move forward with a nominee. A slight majority, 48 percent, believe the Senate should not confirm a nominee this year. Forty-five percent said the upper chamber should.

Of course, all of this is meant to discourage President Trump, Senate Republicans, and their supporters from moving forward with a nomination to replace Ginsburg prior to the November elections. In other words, these polls are like most every other election-related poll in this modern drive-by media era. They are meant to shape opinions instead of merely reporting on them. Events in 2016 again provide an informative lesson here.

After the death of Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, the media put tremendous pressure on the Republican-led U.S. Senate to give Obama nominee Merrick Garland a Senate hearing and a vote. Part of this pressure included numerous polls that supposedly showed Americans were overwhelmingly in favor of Garland receiving a Senate hearing and a vote. Polling Report reveals this to be the case.

Just days after Scalia’s death, Pew Research Center asked, “In thinking about how the Senate should deal with the Supreme Court vacancy, which of the following statements comes closer to your view? Do you think the Senate should hold hearings and vote on whomever President Obama nominates, or not hold hearings until the next president selects a nominee?” Pew reported that “Hold hearings on Obama’s nominee” got 56% support while “Wait for the next president” got only 38% support.

In late February of 2016, a CNN/ORC poll asked, “President Obama has said that he will nominate someone to fill the vacancy. Do you think the Republican leadership in the Senate should or should not hold hearings on the nominee?” According to this poll, “should” hold hearings was at 66% while “should not” was at 32%.

Likewise, in early March of 2016, an ABC News/Washington Post poll asked, “The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has opened a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. After Obama nominates someone to replace Scalia, do you think the Senate should hold hearings and vote on whether to accept the nomination, or should the Senate NOT hold hearings, which would block the nomination and leave it to the next president?” Again, support for holding hearings was supposedly at 63% while those against holding hearings came in at only 32%.

Similarly, in the middle of March in 2016, Gallup asked, “Now turning to the U.S. Supreme Court, as you may know, Merrick Garland is a federal judge who has been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Garland serving on the Supreme Court, or not?” According to Gallup, those wanting the Senate to vote “in favor” was 52%, while those wanting the Senate to “not vote in favor” was at 29%.

And so on it went for the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 elections. What’s more, liberal pundits across the U.S. ran hundreds of editorials calling for Mitch McConnell to allow hearings and a vote on Garland. Even individual GOP Senators—including Susan Collins—called for the Senate to grant Garland Judiciary Committee hearings.

Of course, refusing to acquiesce on Garland hearings was supposed to cost republicans in the 2016 elections. No less than a former executive editor of The New York Times thought so. Writing in The Guardian, Jill Abramson called Garland’s nomination a “political gift” for Hillary Clinton and added that “Garland’s temperate record and demeanor also magnify the extremism of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the leaders for the GOP presidential nomination who could make their own court nominees if Garland is not confirmed by the election. That could further scare off moderate Republicans.”

Of course, after holding up Garland’s nomination in 2016, Donald Trump became the U.S. President, the republicans held on to the U.S. Senate, and even gained two seats in the 2018 midterms. There’s nothing in politics—or, more importantly, in the U.S. Constitution—that says republicans can’t or shouldn’t replace Ginsburg prior to this November. Don’t let the drive-by media lead you into thinking otherwise.

Additionally, any threats of violence, mayhem, and destruction, or any acts of violence, mayhem, and destruction that result from Trump and Senate Republicans acting to replace Ginsburg will not be the fault of the President and the GOP. Like the rest of the violence and mayhem currently plaguing the U.S., the blame will lie squarely on Democrats and their voters. And remember, it was Democrats who turned the courts into “super legislatures” in order to achieve what they otherwise could not get through actually winning elections and passing legislation. If the courts were what our Founders intended, these battles to replace Supreme Court Justices would not be so contentious.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2020, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith and Reason.
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America

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