• August 2, 2021

Exclusive: CNN’s Avlon Slams Justice Breyer’s Rationale For Not Resigning as ‘Reckless’

 Exclusive: CNN’s Avlon Slams Justice Breyer’s Rationale For Not Resigning as ‘Reckless’


CNN’s resident “reality checker” John Avlon joined CNN Newsroom on Wednesday to say that whether or not liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retires is a choice for him to make, but that he is still being reckless for not considering politics in that decision.

Host Poppy Harlow led Avlon by remembering that Breyer gave a speech “at Harvard last year warning what happens when you let people view those in robes as politicians or politically influenced.” 

Avlon didn’t appreciate that reasoning, “Yeah, but that’s the reality.” For Avlon, this is, of course, Republicans’ fault:

 

AVLON: The highest court in the land is still selected through a political prism and if there were any doubt about Republicans’ determination to do whatever they can to seat courts, it was the result of Ruth Bader Ginsburg deciding not to resign, and then running right into reversal of the rule they’d applied to — when Scalia’s seat was open. They jammed that through. Donald Trump had three appointees. So it is reckless to ignore the political implications of this decision. 

Speaking of Ginsburg, CNN went so far as to make a gushy tribute movie about her when she was 85, but now Breyer is considered too recklessly old at 82. 

After host Jim Sciutto declared that Democrats “have PTSD” from Ginsburg not retiring, Avlon broke out the conspiracy theories: “What’s to say Republicans would say, midterms, we could control the Senate in just a few months, therefore we’re going to delay this?”

Avlon compared the situation to Breyer’s old boss Ted Kennedy. He refused to resign his seat even as he died from a brain tumor, which led to Republican Scott Brown’s election. “He worked for Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy didn’t resign when he was gravely ill and then that seat went to a Republican at a critical time for a health care debate.” 

Avlon demanded that Breyer agree like a good Democrat that Republicans are awful and that he “needs to think about the institution of the Court and the balance and what is happening to the Senate, which is politicized this court.” He repeated Breyer is being reckless: “It is his choice to make, but it is reckless to ignore the political dynamics in place.”

Republicans have delayed only one nomination, and judging by subsequent events it was the right decision, but Sciutto still alleged “We’ve seen so many delays by McConnell and others, right, during the Obama term…It’s amazing the gaming of the system.”

Avlon concluded the segment by again condemning Breyer for not taking the Senate’s current balance of power into consideration, “That’s right. And that’s why you can’t simply act as if that’s not happening in the Senate. You cannot separate out the partisan power grabs even from the position on the Supreme Court.”

This segment was sponsored by E-Trade. 

Here is a transcript for the July 15 show:

CNN

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto

9:04 AM ET

POPPY HARLOW: That speech he gave at Harvard last year warning what happens when you let people view those in robes as politicians or politically influenced. 

JOHN AVLON: Yeah, but that’s the reality. I mean, you know, the highest court in the land is still selected through a political prism and if there were any doubt about Republicans’ determination to do whatever they can to seat courts, it was the result of Ruth Bader Ginsburg deciding not to resign, and then running right into reversal of the rule they’d applied to — when Scalia’s seat was open. They jammed that through. Donald Trump had three appointees. So it is reckless to ignore the political implications of this decision. 

JIM SCIUTTO: Democrats have PTSD, you might call it, from the RBG situation, right? There were some that encouraged her to do the same thing, right? Quietly, more quietly now the encouragement if you want to call it that to Breyer is louder and more public. How does that pressure go from here, then, right? Because the midterms are just a little more than a year away, right, so that razor thin Democratic majority in the Senate could disappear then. What happens now? 

AVLON: Well, that’s exactly right. What he said to Joan is that, basically he left the door slightly open, although there is no indication he plans to retire, certainly by his actions. But here’s the thing. Let’s say he wants he wants a 28th year on the Court and then it will be the midterms, still the middle of Biden’s term. Maybe I’ll retire then. What’s to say Republicans would say, midterms, we could control the Senate in just a few months, therefore we’re going to delay this. There’s no rational reason to think — he worked for Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy didn’t resign when he was gravely ill and then that seat went to a Republican at a critical time for a health care debate. There is plenty of precedent to say even beyond thinking about his health seems strong, he needs to think about the institution of the Court and the balance and what is happening to the Senate, which is politicized this court. It is his choice to make, but it is reckless to ignore the political dynamics in place. 

SCIUTTO: I mean, it’s remarkable to think, right, you could delay again. We’ve seen so many delays by McConnell and others, right, during the Obama term. Well, we have an election coming up. We won’t do it again after Trump’s election. Maybe in advance of the midterm. Well, things could change there. It’s amazing the gaming of the system. 

AVLON: That’s right. And that’s why you can’t simply act as if that’s not happening in the Senate. You cannot separate out the partisan power grabs even from the position on the Supreme Court. 



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