CNN's Cuomo Scolds Cuccinelli, GOP Over Refusing Obama Court Nominee

On Thursday's New Day, CNN's Chris Cuomo invoked the Constitution to former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli over Senate Republicans' refusal to consider any potential Supreme Court nominee by President Obama: "The Constitution...[is] about nominating somebody and advise and consent. It's not about delay." Cuomo added, "It would be hard to argue that part of advise and consent is the discretion to neither advise nor consent to the process involved in it." [video below]

The liberal anchor first pointed out to the Virginia Republican (who is a Ted Cruz supporter) that the Texas senator "calls Sri Srinivasan a friend. Now, if he were to get nominated by President Obama, Ted Cruz is saying he wouldn't even think about holding a hearing." He asked, "How do you reconcile those two things — the guy's a friend...[and] he won't even hold a hearing?"

Cuccinelli underlined that "when you're in the throes of a political election that's going to be a change election...it's appropriate to let the American people have a say in this process. I mean, that is part of the constitutional process. For the timing of this vacancy, that is the right position to take."

Cuomo followed up with his claim about the Constitution being "about nominating somebody and advise and consent. It's not about delay." The former attorney general repeated his point about the populace having input through the electoral process: "The Senate is making a constitutional choice in its role as the adviser and consenter to whatever Barack Obama may send over...in an election year, the people ought to have a say in that. So, you're literally...voting for not just a president, but also a choice for the Supreme Court."

The CNN journalist then hinted that Cruz wasn't being an originalist in supporting his fellow Republicans in the Senate: "Ted Cruz is the originalist, as Scalia would coin the phrase, in terms of the Constitution. But it would be hard to argue that part of advise and consent is the discretion to neither advise nor consent to the process involved in it. But again, this is largely a political question."

Cuccinelli retorted, "That's parsing it. You can say it's political. You can say they accept their advise and consent role to say no. That's their advice, and that is their lack of consent." He also asserted that "it's the only time in a year and a half that a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate has mattered to the Republican grassroots. So, for the Senate to cave on this would really be a tremendous failure."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Ken Cuccinelli segment from CNN's New Day on February 25, 2016:

CHRIS CUOMO: So Ted Cruz calls Sri Srinivasan a friend. Now, if he were to get nominated by President Obama, Ted Cruz is saying he wouldn't even think about holding a hearing. How do you reconcile those two things — the guy's a friend; he respects him as a judge — he won't even hold a hearing?

KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Look, I think that, at this period of time — first of all, no Supreme Court appointment would happen before the end of this term. So, you're only talking about a few months of the next term. And when you're in the throes of a political election that's going to be a change election — Barack Obama is term-limited out; he's not coming back — that it's appropriate to let the American people have a say in this process. I mean, that is part of the constitutional process. For — for the timing of this vacancy, that is the right position to take. Ted is in the right place on that.

CUOMO: Well, Ken — look, you were the attorney general, so I'm not going to — you know, I'm not going to trade thoughts about the law with you. But the Constitution — you know, that's about nominating somebody and advise and consent. It's not about delay—

CUCCINELLI: Yes. Yeah, but that — that—

CUOMO: But the politics are clear, and it's been done in the past—

CUCCINELLI: That's right. Well, it's not just the politics — but the Senate is making a constitutional choice in its role as the adviser and consenter to whatever Barack Obama may send over. That — in an election year, the people ought to have a say in that. So, you're literally — be voting for not just a president, but also a choice for the Supreme Court — and that's an unusual form of accountability for those sorts of appointments — where the American people would have a say. And Ted Cruz thinks the American people should have a say.

CUOMO: Ted Cruz is the originalist, as — as Scalia would coin the phrase, in terms of the Constitution—

CUCCINELLI: True—

CUOMO: But it would be hard to argue that part of advise and consent is the discretion to neither advise nor consent to the process involved in it—

CUCCINELLI: Well, not to decide is to decide—

CUOMO: But again, this is largely a political question—

CUCCINELLI: That is a decision. Well, I don't think it's entirely political, but that's okay—

CUOMO: I know; I know that's — I mean, that's the political play.

CUCCINELLI: That's — that's parsing it. You can say it's political. You can say they accept their advise and consent role to say no. That's their — that's their advice, and that is their lack of consent. So, it's the only time—

CUOMO: All right. So, a couple of other big headlines—

CUCCINELLI: It's the only time in a year and a half that a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate has mattered to the Republican grassroots. So, for the Senate to cave on this would really be a tremendous failure.

[CNN Graphic: "White House Vetting GOP Governor For Supreme Court"]

CUOMO: And again, that's the calculation — that caving would be seen as weakness, and that that would not play well with the base, and that this take on the situation will help. So we'll leave that part of the discussion as that.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center