“There are now eight justices on the United States Supreme Court, which requires nine justices, and we suddenly — in the midst of what is already a chaotic political season — have bumbled into what appears to be not yet a constitutional crisis, but right now a giant stress test for our democracy. We haven’t had a Supreme Court seat held open for a year in this country since the US Civil War,” she said, tapping her desk loudly for emphasis. “And the reason we had one held over then was because of the US Civil War. What’s the excuse now?”
VIDEO COURTESY OF MSNBC
The vacancy created by the sudden death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, she said, was different by “an order of magnitude” from typical partisan disputes, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several GOP presidential candidates have already vowed to block any nominations President Barack Obama might submit to restore the high court to nine members.
“That is a position of almost unprecedented radicalism in American history and in American politics,” she argued.
To illustrate the importance of having a full court in place before the election, Maddow outlined a scenario in which this year’s contest could produce a tie in the Electoral College vote or a result so close it could produce a contested recount in one state.
“In an incredibly close election, that can happen,” she said. “And it’s all happening at the level of one state. But it puts the country, basically, into crisis. Because there’s this impasse as to how the election is gonna be decided. and that is hilarious and amazing and exciting on election night. But then you wake up the next morning and you realize there’s no pick.”