Biden must appoint a new Supreme Court justice

Retirement of Judge Stephen Breyer is big news for the Supreme Court. It’s less clear what effect this will have on the midterm electi...


Retirement of Judge Stephen Breyer is big news for the Supreme Court. It’s less clear what effect this will have on the midterm elections – although the court’s expected rulings on abortion and other burning issues could certainly shape the midterm debate.

But the timing says a lot about the current state of affairs between the parties.

If things go well for the White House — President Biden nominates an unquestionably qualified nominee and confirmation proceeds in an orderly fashion — “I don’t expect that to move the needle much,” the statement said. Democratic pollster Molly Murphy of Impact Research, a senior adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It would likely take a direct mistake by Biden — naming a ‘lightning rod’ evoking reactions at the behest of those Brett Kavanaugh elicited — to make his court appointee a divisive issue in November, she said. declared.

Still, Justice Breyer’s retirement, coming amid a crisis for Biden and his party, could serve to remind apathetic Democratic voters of the stakes in losing the Senate majority. After all, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not hold a confirmation vote in the latter part of Biden’s term, should he become majority leader.

And if Biden keeps his campaign promise to appoint the first-ever black woman to the Supreme Court, it would give Democrats a chance to celebrate — an experience unheard of in recent months.

Republicans, however, see only good news in Judge Breyer’s exit now, while Democrats can count on the possibility of confirming his successor if it comes to a party-line vote. And they seem confident they have a lot to attack in anyone who appoints Biden.

“I think it reflects the fact that Democrats know they’re going to lose the Senate,” said Chris Hartline, spokesman for the Republican National Senate Committee. “Forcing vulnerable Democrats to walk the plank and vote for a radical candidate will be the final nail in their electoral coffin.”

Here’s what our colleagues have to say about Breyer’s retirement and the steps to replace him:

Russia’s threat to invade Ukraine divides Republicans along lines that first emerged when Donald Trump was president: GOP elites want to be tough on Moscow, while their constituents seem wary.

On Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell spoke on behalf of the elites when he praised President Biden’s recent handling of the crisis. Amid reports that NATO countries are supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, the terse Senate Minority Leader said, “It seems to me that the administration is moving in the right direction.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been the voice of the skeptical base. During a particularly heated exchange Monday with Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Carlson asked, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia? , but loyal to side with Ukraine? It’s a sincere question.

“Such confrontations have muddied the Republican response and undermined efforts by Republican leaders to portray Mr. Biden’s response as weak,” writes our colleague Jonathan Weisman in a brief analysis of emerging fault lines on the right.

In an interview on Wednesday, Carlson forcefully defended his remarks, which some critics have called aid and comfort to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“Everything I said about Russia and Ukraine seems banal, so obvious to me,” Carlson said. “I don’t think my views are considered radical.”

As for the GOP hawks urging Biden to supply Ukraine with Stinger missiles and Javelin anti-tank weapons, “I don’t think they’re all paid for by Raytheon,” Carlson said. “They’re just on autopilot. They were zombie ideas that they never updated.

Carlson ignored the accusation of toeing the Kremlin line, whether through his comments on Ukraine or his apparent fascination with Moscow-friendly Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. On Wednesday, streaming service Fox Nation released “Hungary vs. Soros: The Fight for Civilization,” which Carlson filmed in Budapest, the Hungarian capital.

“I don’t care, if that’s the question,” he said. “I’ve never been to Russia, I don’t speak Russian. Of course, I am not an agent of Russia.

Carlson says his skepticism about US involvement in Ukraine is driven by two things: disgust at the way US politicians of both parties have pushed for overseas interventions and regret about his own role in promoting the war in Iraq.

“We have just withdrawn in a humiliating way from the longest war in American history,” he said, pointing to Afghanistan. “And no one stops to ask, how did we get here?”

Most of the time, he said, “I’m just amused by the idea of ​​defending the territorial integrity of a country that most Americans can’t identify on Google Maps.”

But Carlson came alive as he reflected on the early George W. Bush era, when the 9/11 attacks, he said, created a media climate hostile to anyone questioning the wisdom of waging wars. in distant lands that Americans struggled to understand.

He recalled his tenure as co-host of “Crossfire,” the CNN talk show that often featured left-wing and right-wing pundits clashing over the politics of the “war on terror” in the early 20s. 2000s.

“I have, in previous conflicts, participated in the hysteria,” he said. “I had no malicious intent, but I was part of a propaganda effort. I’m really ashamed of that. I will never do that again. I really think so.

Carlson said he saw striking parallels between that time and “a time now when legitimate questions are being shouted.”

He compared his own ignorance then about Middle Eastern countries to today’s warmongering commentary on Ukraine, which he considers “so patently insane that it scares me that no one else will seems to notice.”

“I mean, how can you even understand the country if you don’t even speak the language?” he said, adding an expletive for emphasis. He said he had “no idea what I was talking about”.

“I don’t support Putin,” Carlson insisted. “I just care what happens to our country.”

Corn the bipartisan rush to help Ukraine – which he called ‘childish’ – only deepened Carlson’s doubts about the shrewdness of the leaders of both parties, whom he considers ‘too stupid to control a country the size of ours’ .

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Something you want to see more? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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