08 Mar THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURSE TO FILLING SUPREME COURT VACANCIES – FOLLOW THE SCHUMER RULE
The unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016 was tragic for his family and friends, the Court, and America. The GOP should not compound that tragedy by even holding hearings for any Supreme Court replacement nominated by President Obama.
This one seat will impact America’s course for decades to come, much more than the election of any particular politician. The nomination of Justice Scalia’s replacement can happen early in 2017, by the new President chosen by the people.
There are no constitutional imperatives here, and there is no emergency.
The Constitution gives the President the right but not obligation to immediately nominate a replacement. It gives the Senate the right but not the obligation to hold nomination hearings, as well as the vote on whether to affirm or reject that nominee.
There are very serious pragmatic implications.
Justice Scalia was the Court’s Constitutional gatekeeper, the staunchest and most articulate defender of the Constitution as written, whether that role required him to vote to free a drug dealer or protect unpopular speech. The President who would like to choose Scalia’s replacement now has run roughshod over the Constitution, usurped Congressional power via expansive use of executive orders, ignored the Constitution’s requirement of Senate approval of treaties (resulting in the disastrous Iranian deal), and in a plethora of ways signaled disdain for the Constitution, which is the support structure of America’s liberty.
We are losing ordered liberty and limited government as a result of President Obama’s abuses of the Constitution.
Every member of the GOP majority in the United States Senate took an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This Constitution-shredding, executive branch-expanding President will not nominate anyone who holds to the true ‘originalist’ or ‘textualist’ idea of the Constitution so honored by Justice Scalia.
Moreover, the Court’s current composition consists of four GOP-appointed and four Democrat-appointed justices, and it is just barely balanced. The liberals never fail to deliver liberal decisions, and two of the GOP-appointed justices are unreliable conservatives. GOP-appointed Justice Anthony Kennedy is regularly referred to as the “swing vote.”
Two more things.
Declining to hold hearings is far preferable to holding them and then rejecting the nominee, because there is no reason to voluntarily walk into that media-stoked frenzy when there is a constitutional way to avoid it. And, heir-apparent to the Senate Minority Leader slot, Chuck Schumer, advocated in 2007 for denying a lame duck GOP President (George W) nominations that Senate Democrats could block.
The GOP should follow the Schumer rule, and hearings should not even be considered.