During an interview with Chris Hayes Thursday, Senator Jeff Merkley asked to spend a couple of minutes on a particular concern of his -- the Supreme Court.
"The seat [on the court] that is sitting empty is being stolen," Merkley argued. "It's being stolen from the Obama administration and the construct of our constitution and it's being delivered to an administration that has no right to fill it, and we have to understand that this is about the Koch brothers' cartel working with the Republicans who say that they want to basically pack the court."
Merkley went on to describe the urgency with which he believes it should be addressed.
"We need to pay attention to this. We need to have Americans be informed on it. and to say there's no legitimacy to a Supreme Court justice in a seat that's been stolen from one administration and handed to another."
Those are pretty strong words right there. As a tactic, I understand this completely, but I'm skeptical that it will have any impact on Republicans, who are feeling just fine about the fact that they're in the driver's seat for the next four years.
Merkley urged a strategy of blocking whoever Trump nominates as a replacement for Scalia, because in his opinion, their nomination is illegitimate and stolen from the Democratic president who had the right to nominate and expect the Senate's vote on his nominee.
When Chris Hayes pressed him on whether or not he thought a Trump nomination would be legitimate and what they could do about that, Merkley proposed the same response to a Trump nominee that Republicans gave to President Obama's nominee.
"Well, it will be illegitimate but it won't be DOA unless the American people understand this is the theft of the court and what it is is a theft being delivering it to the Koch brothers, and the Koch brothers are not interested in we, the people," he answered.
"It's turning our constitution on its head. This is government by and for the most powerful. It's locking in Citizens United which is completely against the mother principle that Jefferson laid out for an equal voice for citizens," he continued
He added, "And this is going to corrupt our political system in a way never envisioned or intended by our constitution for a generation to come, so we be need to be talking about it and do everything we can to stop it."
Basically, Senator Merkley's argument comes down to this. Give Merrick Garland a vote in the lame duck or risk the same treatment to any Trump nominee that comes down the pike, post-inauguration, unless that Trump nominee is Merrick Garland.
I think putting all the pressure we can on Republicans while reminding the public that yes, Republicans are stealing a SCOTUS nominee from President Obama in order to erase as much of President Obama as they can is a good thing. I'm not sure that shameless Republicans respond to pressure, but Merkley's is an argument worth amplifying.