Kamala Harris, history professor, held class tonight and gave V.P. Pence a lecture on how even a GOP icon like Lincoln would have been opposed to filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election season. She said: “In 1864 a seat became open on the Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge of not only the White House but the Senate. 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 [on the Court].”
Well, what she was referring to was the October 12, 1864 death of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Taney was a vehemently pro-slavery jurist — his Court decided in Dredd Scott that Blacks were not people and thus had no right to sue — whom Lincoln no doubt disdained. Contrary to Sen. Harris’ version of history (that a junior staffer must have hastily Google searched, scribbled onto a sheaf of paper, and then placed in front of her under the label “zinger”), if anything, Lincoln was chomping at the bit to fill this Jacksonian Democrat’s seat with a Republican…especially with emancipation amendments to the Constitution on the horizon.
So why didn’t Honest Abe fill the seat before the November 1864 election? Simple. THE SENATE WASN’T IN SESSION.
The Senate wouldn’t be back until December 5, 27 days after Election Day. The very next day, December 6, 1864, a re-elected Lincoln submitted his nomination for Supreme Court Chief Justice to the lame-duck Republican Senate (which had maintained its majority)…his former Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. Chase was confirmed the very same day. That was just 56 days after Taney’s death. Pretty much in line with the Amy Coney Barrett timeline. Huh, go figure. Not a good example.
So no, Sen. Harris. It wasn’t principle which prevented honest Abe from jumping at the chance to erase the Taney Court’s tainted legacy, but rather the calendar. Unreal.
Also, to my knowledge, neither Lincoln nor his opponent, George McClellan, ever refused to answer again and again if they intended to pack the Court. They both respected the separation of powers too much, I guess. That a candidate from any party would refuse to answer such a question is positively terrifying to me. In a country in which proper U.S. History and even just basic civics were still taught, it would be enough to scare anyone. This is how banana republics are formed.
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Brad Schaeffer is a commodities trader, columnist, and author of the acclaimed World War II novel Of Another Time And Place.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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