Ted Cruz and Jason Chaffetz are determined to drive their party off the cliff…. (More)

“That’s a debate that we are going to have”

It seems Sen. Cruz wants his Senate Republican colleagues to stonewall anyone Hillary Clinton nominates to the Supreme Court:

Speaking to reporters after a campaign rally for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate here, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices – appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election.

“You know, I think there will be plenty of time for debate on that issue,” said Cruz, when he was asked whether a Republican-controlled Senate should hold votes on a President Hillary Clinton’s nominees. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

It’s true that the Supreme Court did not always have nine Justices. The Court began with six Justices, and Congress increased that to seven in 1807, nine in 1837, and 10 in 1863. In 1866 Congress passed the Judicial Circuits Act, and it said the next three Justices to retire would not be replaced, eventually bringing the Court back to seven members. But three years later Congress passed the Circuit Judges Act, which set the Supreme Court at its current nine members. President Franklin Roosevelt famously proposed to increase the size of the Court in 1937, but Congress refused.

So yes, there’s “precedent” for Congress passing a law to change the size of the Supreme Court. But President Clinton would veto it, and I doubt the House or Senate could rustle up two-thirds majorities to override her veto.

More’s the point, Sen. Cruz didn’t propose such a law. Instead, he wants Senate Republicans to stonewall Supreme Court nominees until a Republican wins the White House … and there is no “precedent” for that.

Even current Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has said Republicans will have to hold hearings and vote on President Clinton’s nominees, and if she wins Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) wants his colleagues to approve Merrick Garland during the lame duck session rather than let her send up a younger, more liberal nominee. And Democrats are poised to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if they win a Senate majority, as they’re favored to do.

In other words, Sen. Cruz will make a lot of noise, but I doubt he’ll get much support from his colleagues. Instead, he will go back to calling them “squishes” and other insults, pandering to his fringe-right base.

On the plus side, he admitted that before the election, so voters can weigh Cruz’s threats as they cast their ballots.

“We’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up”

Voters can also weigh Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ promise to conduct more political witch hunts:

Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, unendorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.

“It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

A Washington Post reader summarized it perfectly:

Yes indeed, four more years of what set the table for Trump and crippled the party…that’s the type of forward and creative thinking to inspire us all…

Again, Rep. Chaffetz may find fewer takers for the Neverending Investigation, especially if Democrats pick up 15-20 seats as most forecasts now project. Yes, most of the GOP’s lost seats will have been in moderate districts, so hardliners will be a higher share of the House Republicans who remain. But those hardliners want criminal investigations and even impeachment, and Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t seem inclined to go that far:

“The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the [Hillary] Clinton email scandal,” the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The speaker supports [Oversight’s] investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law.”

In other words, “Don’t push us off the cliff into months or years of fact-free conspiracy theories and ‘Lock her up!’ chants.”

At some point, if he has dreams of a White House run, Speaker Ryan knows he’ll have to prove the House can govern … and following Rep. Chaffetz won’t get him there.

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Image Credit: AATTP

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Good day and good nuts