Regarding “Holding Court,” May, about the refusal to hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland: The premise of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s “principle” is that the nearest election best reflects voters’ voice. The principle would apply in the third year of a president’s term, since at that point the nearest election is the next one.
This would mean that Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony M. Kennedy were improperly nominated. Thomas’ appointment would seem particularly improper in retrospect, since the president who appointed him was voted out the following year.
McConnell suggests that a president should not make an appointment that “will affect the Supreme Court for probably a quarter of a century” beyond his term. President Ronald Reagan did exactly that with his appointment of Justice Antonin Scalia.