Kamala Harris must have been so proud of herself. During the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, she argued that President Donald Trump should not have nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and she cited as her precedent none other than Abraham Lincoln himself – “Honest Abe.”
As it turns out, however, Kamala Harris was being less than honest in her portrayal of Abraham Lincoln’s record.
“In 1864… Abraham Lincoln was up for reelection, and it was 27 days before the election, and a seat became open on the United States Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge not only of the White House but the Senate,” Harris began.
“But Honest Abe said, ‘It’s not the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States and then that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.'”
Yet Lincoln said no such thing. In fact, the polarization of the Supreme Court is a fairly recent phenomenon, dating back to the living Constitution approach of activist judges amending the Constitution by fiat – “discovering” a right to abortion in the Fourteenth Amendment, for example. Before Roe v. Wade (1973), and really before Joe Biden led the smear campaign against Robert Bork in 1987, Supreme Court nominations often proceeded as a matter of course.
Harris was correct that when Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died on October 12, 1864, President Lincoln did not nominate his successor, Salmon P. Chase, until after the election. This had nothing to do with letting “the next president” choose the nominee, however. Read more…