Great catch by David Bernstein and one of the commenters on “The Volokh Conspiracy” blog at WashingtonPost.com. It turns out that Democrats passed a resolution in 1960 to pressure then President Eisenhower to not use a recess appointment to name a Supreme Court justice in the last year of his presidency:
It’s not quite the same thing as we have this year as the non-binding resolution that passed in 1960 was designed to keep Eisenhower from using a recess appointment to name another Supreme Court justice. Bernstein writes:
Each of President Eisenhower’s Supreme Court appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats were apparently concerned that Ike would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment. Not surprisingly, the Republicans objected, insisting that the Court should have a full complement of Justices at all times.
But let’s take a look at one of the key Dems who voted in favor of the resolution, Senator and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts:
Oh, so it’s normal for presidential candidates to play politics in an election year? Who knew!
Also of note, fellow 1960 presidential candidates Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri and Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas voted in favor of the resolution as well:
Case closed. It’s perfectly normal for presidential candidates — LIKE DEMOCRATIC HERO JOHN F. KENNEDY — to attempt to block the sitting president’s SCOTUS picks. Why should Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz be held to a different standard?