Jerry Moran has a job to do.
Speaking Monday during a small town hall meeting in Cimarron, U.S. Sen. Moran, R-Kansas, broke from the lockstep orders of the GOP, quietly announcing he would be willing to consider the U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee recently offered by President Obama.
“I would rather have you (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” Moran said, according to a report by Austin Fisher in the Garden City Telegram, a sister newspaper of The Ottawa Herald. “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have my job to do.
“I think the process ought to go forward.”
If that sounds like a reasonable position for a responsible lawmaker, you’re paying attention. Moran didn’t say he’d vote to confirm the nominee — simply that he’d play his elected role in the process.
The first-term senator’s Republican colleagues feel decidedly different, with nearly all of them pledging to deny Obama’s nominee, federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, any meetings or hearings necessary to even consider his confirmation to the nation’s high court. They argue the next president — not Obama — should decide who will fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.
Moran’s fellow senator from Kansas, Pat Roberts, told a crowd gathered Tuesday for an Ottawa Rotary meeting that it was the Republican Party position that Garland’s nomination essentially be ignored amid the heat of the ongoing season of presidential politics. Roberts said it was an issue of following the correct process (apparently decided on a whim since it isn’t protocol, tradition or even a long-standing GOP position), not a direct conflict with Garland himself.
“I understand a lot of people disagree with that — especially liberals, moderates and conservatives — but that’s the way it is,” Roberts said, according to a report by The Herald’s Kate Shelton.
Of course, others opposed to Garland’s nomination make it clear Obama and his judge pick specifically are the problem. And now Moran has joined them as a political target.
“Statements like [Moran’s] are exactly why the grassroots conservatives are rebelling against the Republican establishment,” Adam Brandon, chief executive officer of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group, said. “They send a signal that Republicans will sell out their principles when it becomes politically convenient to do so. This is a perfect example as to why conservative activists have no faith in their elected officials. ... If Republicans continue to ignore their calls, they do so at their peril.”
Exactly how is Moran’s decision to fulfill his Senate duties — even going against his fellow Republicans during an election year — selling his principles or politically convenient?
A real example of political convenience: self-righteously seeking to curtail the constitutional nomination process just because the opposing party temporarily controls the White House. Are we really expected to believe that if the roles were reversed — and, say, President Mitt Romney had just nominated a conservative justice during a contentious election year — Republicans would be demanding the pick be put on hold while voters considered the coming presidential bout?
No, Republicans are playing a game. And to be fair, it’s the same game Democrats have played in the past.
Jerry Moran just wants to do his job.
He understands the stakes are high. He understands the role of the Senate. He understands Republicans don’t have to embrace hypocrisy to stop Garland’s confirmation.
While activists and the politicians they terrify beat their chests, Moran plans to get back to work.
— Tommy Felts,
Herald editor and publisher