Senate Must Dutifully Consider Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

We already have a Congress that is unproductive. It shut down the government for a couple of weeks last year, and it seems incapable of doing even their primary duty of passing laws. Congress is so dysfunctional right now that it can only agree that the sky is blue but only if it’s not a cloudy day.

And now with the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the GOP is making this empty seat ridiculously political.

For President Obama to successfully appoint a Supreme Court Justice, the Senate must confirm the President’s nominee with 60 votes. In just hours after Justice Scalia’s death, Senate Majority (obstructionist) Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) insisted that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

That is absurd. It is the president’s constitutional right and duty to nominate a supreme court justice when there is a vacancy. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say in a president’s final year of office that appointing justices to the Supreme Court shall be forbidden.

Yet, most Republican leaders and Republican presidential candidates are opposed to Obama nominating anyone to replace Scalia. At the Republican Presidential debate, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida claimed that “it’s been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court Justice” as a reason Obama should not nominate the next supreme court justice.

Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said, “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year.”

Republican leaders are not just wrong; they are hypocritical. For Obama to nominate a supreme court justice is not unprecedented. In fact, Rubio’s and Cruz’s idol Ronald Reagan had Justice Anthony Kennedy confirmed in February 1988 of his lame duck year. Furthermore, George H.W. Bush nominated Justice Clarence Thomas who was confirmed with about a year left before the presidential election.

Actually, to wait until the next president to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice would be unprecedented.

These Republican leaders who claim they hold both Reagan and the Constitution in high regard are being hypocritical.

We the people overwhelmingly voted for Obama assuming that he would have all the powers of a president for his entire term. We voted for him with the intent that he would fulfill his duty and get things done during all four years, not sit around his lame-duck year and play golf while watching the grass grow.

And it is not like Obama’s term is almost over. Historically, the longest time for a nominee to get approved was 125 days according to National Public Radio (NPR). Obama has more than 330 days left, so even if it were to take 125 days to get a nominee, he still has more than half a year left in office. These are days that Obama can and should carry out the duties of Article II of the Constitution.

This McConnell-led obstructionist policy will not only make our legislative branch paralyzed, but also our judicial branch.

With only eight supreme court justices, there leaves a possibility of a tie. When there is a tie, the lower court’s decision stands and the Supreme Court sets no legal precedent. Or the Supreme Court may put the case on hold before voting on it. And this is scheduled to be a big year for the Supreme Court with controversial cases on abortion, voting districts, immigration, and Obamacare.

Even the highly respected conservative retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, nominated by Reagan, said that Obama should nominate a Supreme Court justice. This issue should not be politicized, and as O’Connor said ”We need somebody in there to do the job and just get on with it.”