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Blog Post # 3 Steven Crowder and Sam Seder’s take on the Amy Coney Barrett Nomination

By John McCabe

October 17, 2020

With just two weeks until the General Election, coverage of the Amy Coney Barrett hearing has dominated the web. Naturally in the online world, independent commentators on the left and right offer different viewpoints of the nomination. As the right argues that the Senate has constitutional authority to confirm Barrett, the left argues that the Senate is being hypocritical due their rejection of Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016, a decision Republicans at the time claimed was valid on the basis that Supreme Court nominees should not be confirmed amid an election year.

This week, right wing commentator Steven Crowder published an episode in one of his “Change My Mind” series to YouTube, a segment where he sits at a table with a sign including the phrase “Change My Mind,” inviting people, oftentimes college students, to change his mind on a particular topic.

In his latest installment, Crowder challenge college students at Texas Christian University to change his mind on the Barrett nomination, where much of his arguments in favor of the nomination had to do with the Senate’s constitutional power.

“Merrick Garland was not confirmed by the Senate because it was a Republican Senate,” said Crowder speaking to a student named Samantha. “Donald Trump nominated A.C.B., and of course, it’s a Republican Senate, so it’s very likely she’ll be confirmed…I hear a lot of people saying ‘we feel like we should wait until the next election’ but I’m not hearing any justification…there’s no reasoning, there’s no constitutionality behind the idea that we need to wait.”

Crowder’s claim is peculiar considering the outpour of resurfaced videos of 2016 Republicans arguing why Supreme Court nominations should be postponed during an election year. Among these leaders were Sen. Lindsay Graham, who stated, “if there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsay Graham said let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ and you can use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”

In an exchange with a student named Kit, Crowder added that Garland was not confirmed in 2016 due to the Senate and the Presidency being of different political parties.

“I’m not in favor of them doing it because I think it would be hypocritical of the Senate’s argument they made with Obama…” said Kit.

“No, no,” said Crowder, interrupting Kit, “their argument was that it was a split government…Their argument wasn’t just that it was an election year, their argument was that it was unprecedented in an election year to try and force a divided government to confirm…”

However, the resurfaced videos of 2016 Republicans arguing against Garland seem to be making the central argument that a new judge should not be confirmed during an election year.

On March 16, 2016, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pointed out that the Senate has the power to withhold the consent of a nomination, but not to the extent or specification that that power has anything to do with the Senate and the Presidency being of different political parties.

Nevertheless, Crowder was adamant that the opposing 2016 Senate and Presidency, even more so than a nomination taking place amid an election year, was the principal point as to why Garland’s nomination was ultimately rejected. Crowder did not go on to cite any Republicans that had made this contention their central claim in 2016 when arguing against Garland’s nomination.

Meanwhile, progressive talk show host Sam Seder of the Majority Report criticized Democratic lawmakers for attending the Barrett nomination in the first place. In Seder’s view, had the Democrats on the committee not attended the meeting, it would’ve created a message to the American people that the nomination was a sham.

“If you want to signal to the American public that something is a sham, then you don’t participate in it,” said Seder. “You have a press conference or you have some type of rally out in front of the Senate of the building, a socially distant rally, where you say, ‘We’re not going to go into that building because what they’re doing is a sham.’ You need to show, not just tell.”

Seder then speculated that a lot of Democrats are not in favor of expanding the court, even if Biden is elected. He believes that centrist Democrats are against packing the court as a political decision and that they do not want any political pressure of having to pack the court if Biden wins. His contention is that by attending the hearing, centrist Democrats are able to broadcast their reservations against Barrett without having to declare to a divided base of constituents, that would probably be in favor of packing the court if Biden wins, whether they support its expansion.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1983, Biden referred to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s attempt to pack the court decades prior as a “bonehead idea”.  But despite Biden’s past reservations against packing the court, Crowder, like many other right wing pundits, has voiced worry that a Biden presidency would pack the courts. Seder, on the other hand, does not seem optimistic that Biden would pack the courts if he were elected.

“…there’s every reason to believe based upon his [Biden] history,” said Seder, “based upon the people that support him, Chris Coons, that they do not have an intention to expand the size of the court…they don’t want that political pressure…they wanted to activate people who are concerned about the A.C.A. and concerned about a woman’s right to have sovereignty over their own body…but they don’t want to activate people too, too much so that they are beholden to actually taking material, legitimate steps in the future to prevent these things from happening.”

Prior to becoming political talk show hosts, both Crowder and Seder began their careers as stand-up comedians. In the world of online punditry, they are without a doubt two of the biggest players. In the past, Seder has challenged Crowder to debate multiple times, often ridiculing Crowder for allegedly only debating college students that aren’t media trained or as politically educated.

Reportedly, Crowder backed out of a debate with Seder at Politicon 2018. At this time, Crowder has not publicly commented on the accusations that he dodged a debate with Seder, or even acknowledge that Seder had challenged him to a debate at all.

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