While chastising Democrats for threatening to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday delivered one of his most egregious falsehoods yet. Republicans, he insisted, have historically been cooperative when it comes to giving up-or-down votes to Democratic presidents’ court appointments. Spicer specifically mentioned former President Barack Obama in making this assertion.
“Republicans in the past have allowed Democrat presidents to have their [SCOTUS] nominees voted on up or down,” Spicer said. “And for the most part, when you go back through President Obama or President Clinton…Republicans have joined with Democrats to allow people who are qualified to go onto the court.”
“It was Obama’s nominees that got through—all with Republican support,” he added. “It’s difficult to understand why, when you’ve got someone as eminently qualified as Gursuch, that this is the stake that they want to drive. And I think it further sets a partisan divide in our country when we can’t allow people who are qualified, and universally so, to get on the bench.”
There’s one glaring problem with Spicer’s remarks: Merrick Garland. In 2016, Obama selected Garland to replace the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February. Arguing the nomination to fill the vacant seat should be left to the next president, Republicans staged an unprecedented blockade to the nomination process, refusing to even hold hearings on Garland’s nomination. That gamble paid off, and here we are with Trump and Gorsuch—and Spicer’s bald-faced lie.
Watch Spicer’s remarks, which start around the 1 hour and 49 minute mark: