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Turns out Republicans may not really want “the people” to decide the next Supreme Court justice.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

That has been the GOP’s position since the death of Antonin Scalia, that voters in 2016 should have a say in his replacement. Just yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people should have “a voice” in the confirmation discussion. As Scott Lemieux noted in The New Republic, McConnell’s argument rests on shaky (i.e., nonexistent) historical ground, but at least it pretends to abide by some democratic principle.

But Republicans are already sending strong signals that they might confirm Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session if Hillary Clinton wins in November. The rationale appears to be that Garland, a moderate, is as good a candidate as they’re going to get. However, in the process, they have forgotten the reason they are blocking Garland in the first place. Senator Jeff Flake said Garland is probably a “more centrist figure” than “somebody that President Clinton might nominate.” Senator Orrin Hatch has made similar noises, suggesting that a Garland confirmation would block a Clinton pick.

In other words, the people get to decide only if they don’t decide in favor of Clinton.