It’s easy to point fingers at Majority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the rest of the Republican Party for not wanting to the do their job as it relates to replacing Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The Republicans didn’t write the playbook on this; they’re following Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) lead when he stated in 2007 that Democrats shouldn’t confirm any George W. Bush Supreme Court nominees through the end of his Presidency.
The difference? President George W. Bush didn’t have a Supreme Court seat to fill at the time of Senator Schumer’s statement. President Bush’s appointees to the Supreme Court are Chief Justice John Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 2005 and Justice Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006. Prior to Samuel Alito, Harriet Miers was nominated to replace Justice O’Connor but withdrew her nomination due to opposition. Given due process, President Bush was two out of three with his nominations. So far President Obama is two for two; Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.
That’s how it works. The President nominates and the Senate confirms/rejects. Article III of the Unites States Constitution mentions nothing about a moratorium on election year nominations. These days it seems both sides of the aisle are making up rules as they go along. There have been eight election year nominations to the Supreme Court since 1900. Six were confirmed and two were rejected.
If the Republicans were smart they would have kept their mouths shut and simply rejected President Obama’s nominee with due process. Just as Senator Schumer was wrong in 2007 to say President Bush shouldn’t nominate another Justice, so are the Republicans today. It is their duty to hold hearings and explain to the American voters why they are rejecting the President’s nominee for more reason than “We don’t like the way the Constitution is written because it doesn’t suit us right this minute”. Republicans, don’t want a Democratic President to nominate Supreme Court Justices? Win the election before the Justice passes away or retires.
Want my advice Republican Senators? (Didn’t think so, but here it comes anyway.) The way to guarantee another Democratic President is to refuse to perform your duties and have your Republican Presidential candidates cheer on your lack of effort. Want a chance to win the hearts of the undecided American voters? Do the job you were elected to do and have your Presidential candidates support you in performing your elected duty. I’m not saying you have to approve President Obama’s nominee. You need to uphold the Constitution as you always say you do and you owe the American people fair hearings and an honest effort.