In tweets and statements, Senate Republicans have emphatically distanced themselves from President Trump’s morally bankrupt response to the violent white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. When Trump blamed “both sides” and said that “many fine people” were among the torch-bearing neo Nazis, the bipartisan rebuke was swift. Jeff Flake said that “we cannot accept excuses for white supremacy.” Orrin Hatch said that “we should never hesitate to call out hate whenever and wherever we see it.” And Lindsey Graham criticized Trump for responding in a way that earned “praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country.”
These are encouraging words, but Senators must back them up with real action. They could start with their constitutional obligation to advise and consent on nominations, and ensure that our courts and government agencies do not become engines of racial division. So far, however, the Republican-controlled Senate has served as a rubber stamp for Trump’s nominees, propelling into power judges and executive officials selected precisely because they will advance Trump’s broader anti-equality and anti-civil rights agenda. If Senate Republicans are serious about fighting racism and suppressing the white nationalist movement that Trump has emboldened, their words of disapproval must be matched by votes on the Senate floor.