Before you dismiss this post as just another “I hate Obama and everything he does” missives, please read all the way to the end. You might very well be surprised.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he would block an appointment to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. The news had barely broken that the justice had died and already both sides were jockeying for position on the issue. The President, his remarks made in an unbuttoned shirt without a tie (a staffer couldn’t have loaned him one for crying out loud?!), indicated he would have an appointment in the very near future. Some are predicting it could be as early as next week. I think it might be as early as this Sunday. After all, Justice Scalia was laid to rest on Saturday and according to the White House, there is too much as stake to wait for announcing an appointment.
Whether or not the appointment comes this week or next month, one thing remains the same. The Senate should not move forward on hearings or confirmation of the President’s appointee for two very important reasons.
First, the idea of not appointing nominees to the Supreme Court was addressed by Senate Resolution (S RES 334), which was passed by a Democratically controlled Senate in 1960. It admonished then President Eisenhower to refrain from any Supreme Court nominations until after the General Election. That included recess appointments as well. The idea has also been floated that President Obama might appoint, during a recess of the Senate, a justice to fill the vacancy until the next president is sworn in. Both of those ideas would break over 140 years of restraint by the Senate of appointing a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.
Funny how, when the shoe is on the other foot, the rules shouldn’t apply. Maybe that is why so many people are fed up with the hypocrisy of Washington insiders. Everyone else has to abide by the rules, unless they are in power and don’t like them. One side gets to make the rules that both sides are supposed to play by, but when they don’t like it, well, throw out the rule book.
The second reason is that the American people should have a say regarding who they would like to have appointed to the Court. They will give a strong indication of what direction they want the Court, and the country, to go after the results of the November elections. This might be the most important reason of all. And this would apply to either party. Or at least it should. If there was a Republican president who was trying to place someone on the Court, it wouldn’t change the because of who is in the White House. Republican or Democrat, the appointment of a justice this close to the general election should not happen.
The final decision will lie with the Senate and the leadership of the Republican party. They need to lead from a position of strength. Communication will be the key moving forward. Clear and concise explanations for why they are choosing the position they have taken is mandatory. The American people are smart enough to figure out what is spin and what is the truth. Let’s hope they are willing to listen.
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