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The scorched-earth strategy of the GOP

| Friday, March 18, 2016

One of the major campaign issues arising in this 2016 cycle is the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. What was once a decided issue – the current president making the appointment regardless of how close he is to completing his term – has become something Republicans believe they can contest. Led by Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans in contested races, for fear of losing support of their conservative bases, are turning to McConnell’s unconstitutional position.

Those contested Senate races include Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. These Republicans are following McConnell’s lead.

Sen. Dan Coates, R-Ind., is retiring after this term. By submitting to Senate race GOP politics, he is setting up whoever his successor will be to take the same stance.

This extreme stance will not be well received come November. Moderate Republicans who are disgusted by the GOP establishment flouting constitutional duty will almost certainly vote for Democrats.

Democratic candidates in these elections have already ripped apart the GOP position. Candidates including former Admiral Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, Governor Maggie Hasson of New Hampshire, and former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio have all spoken out against their challengers’ constitutionally dubious position. Even Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is uncomfortable with GOP playing politics over the Supreme Court, objecting to the political maneuvering on both sides of aisle on the very recent death of Justice Scalia.

If Sen. Coates wishes to leave behind a respectable legacy, he should not submit to Mitch McConnell’s obstructions of the constitutional duty of the president to appoint a new justice. Democrats are on the right side of the issue. This will play out well for Sestak, Hasson, and Strickland when they challenge Republican incumbents in November. For Indiana, Senate candidate Baron Hill will likely join the ranks of Sestak, Hasson and Strickland.

Kieran Phelan


Feb. 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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