Columnist Hugh Hewitt ("Senate must not legitimize House's sham impeachment," Nov. 9) writes, "When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016, it took McConnell about an hour to declare that the Senate would not consider a replacement nominee until after the November presidential election. This bold move on behalf of the Constitution will always be McConnell’s crowning achievement …” In reading the Constitution, I cannot find the part where it indicates that a president’s powers diminish in their final year in office. Nor do I see where it enshrines the notions expressed throughout this column that what Republicans do — whether it’s obstructing Democrats or ignoring the bad behaviors of the chief executive — is constitutional, while the work of Democratic legislators seeking accountability is a sham.

Should a vacancy appear on the Supreme Court this coming February and with the possibility of a Democrat being elected in the fall, would McConnell be inclined to repeat this convoluted interpretation of the Constitution? I doubt it. His changes to Senate rules on confirming federal judges and creating an assembly line confirmation process do not respect the Constitution or the rule of law.

By averting their eyes from the egregiously bad behavior and apparent unlawful abuse of power by the president, while savaging those who seek accountability, the populist right holds the clear language of the Constitution subservient to its fevered ideology. Following this trend to its logical extreme would change our system to that of a strong leader who, no matter his behavior, would not be held accountable by the courts or legislators.

With the responsible mainstream media savaged as “fake news” and encouraging distrust of professional journalism in favor of right-wing commentators as the source of “truth,” it looks like the populist right would turn the entire notion of separation of powers and rule of law upside down in favor of an autocracy. Truly the end of the “great experiment” in American democracy.

Stephen A. Montgomery, Bakersfield