[O]n March 15th...it’s plausible [Trump] could amass a near-insurmountable delegate advantage.
In three weeks, Obama will have picked his nominee. CNN has a short-list of possible picks right here; it seems likely that he or she will be thoroughly within the legal mainstream — someone such as Sri Srinivasan, who is “considered a moderate,” has been praised by Republicans, and was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit by a 97-0 vote. The White House almost certainly does not think Republicans can maintain their no-action posture for too long, so Obama might nominate a moderate on the off chance that he or she might actually get through, allowing him to further shape the Court.
So in three weeks, though this is anything but assured, Trump could be the presumed nominee. If so, all heck will be breaking loose in the GOP asylum, which will be looking more out of control than ever. And Obama will have picked his choice for the Court. Are Republicans really going to continue to refuse to give any hearings to, or even meet with, a moderate Supreme Court nominee at that point?
Maybe. But remember, Republicans themselves worry that if Trump is the nominee, they will be at dire risk of losing the Senate and the White House. That chatter will be a lot louder if Trump looks like he’s got an insurmountable delegate lead. That in turn will give rise to the obvious next question: should Republicans really risk not confirming Obama’s nominee, if it could mean that President Hillary Clinton — her nomination could also look more likely in three weeks — will get to pick Scalia’s replacement, with the help of a Democratic Senate? (If you want more on the various permutations in that scenario, go here.)