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Francis Wilkinson

Pity the Republicans

The controversy over replacing a Supreme Court justice reveals a party debilitated by doubt.
Where do they turn now?

Where do they turn now?

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republicans insist on strictly following the Constitution. Just not right now. Now is special, they say. Now is not the time to resort to a nitpicky document drawn up by bewigged ancients.

No, for Republicans, the only sensible course now is to be governed by norms --  those long-established byways that govern the behavior of esteemed institutions such as the U.S. Senate without having been written into the Constitution or Senate rules. Actually, what Republicans want is not so much adherence to longstanding norms as adherence to a single, somewhat suspect and short-standing norm -- the "Thurmond Rule."