Justice Scalia’s death resulting in a vacancy to the Supreme Court brings out Republicans’ disregard for the U.S. Constitution. In a letter that totally makes their position clear, the Senate Judiciary Republicans say they will not even meet to discuss President Obama’s eventual nominee to the Supreme Court—let alone hold a hearing or a vote on the nominee. The position is despite the fact the U.S. Constitution makes clear that upon a vacancy to the high court, the President shall nominate with the advice and consent of the Senate. The position is despite the fact there is almost eleven months until the next president will be sworn in. This position is despite the fact there is no precedent for coming to their decision.
Republicans are now making up the rules as they go along—except this is not a game. It makes a mockery of the U.S. Constitution and our laws. And the only reason is to ensure the balance of the court does not change hands. The Supreme Court is now divided and split 4-4 with Justices Sotomayer, Bader Ginsburg, Kagan and Breyer voting on the liberal wing and the remaining four usually voting on the conservative side of rulings. With a split in decisions, the U.S. Supreme court will be at a stall-mate—possibly for over the next year.
Cases that have already been heard may end in a tie. This means the case decision from the lower court would stand. In some instances, that will bode well for liberals as in the case of redistricting. In other instances, it may mean the Texas abortion law will stand and all clinics will close. In other instances, it may mean that cases will be reargued at the Court’s discretion. And it will undeniably mean justice delayed might be justice denied. None of that matters to the Republicans.
Since the 2008 election and day one of his presidency, the sole goal of the GOP has been to make President Obama a lame duck president. And despite their efforts, President Obama has always acted with grace under fire—making accomplishments for the American people. And so, this time will be no different.
I predict that despite the efforts of the GOP, a nominee will ultimately be confirmed. And no matter what happens, it will be a win-win for President Obama and the Democrats. For starters, “Democracy Awakening” protests are planned on the Nation’s Capitol for three days—April 16-18. The rally consists of a Rally for Democracy with protests, a “Congress of Conscience” sit-in, advocacy at the U.S. Capitol and teach-ins. So far, attendees are coming from twelve states to call for the vacancy to be filled—as well as other measures such as curbing money in politics.
The rally’s attention will help to underscore the importance of the Supreme Court. Until now, the average voter may not realize the importance of the Supreme Court. And it just may give enough attention to many of the State Senate and Congressional races on ballots this year. There are five Senate seats necessary for the Democrats to win back and control the Senate in 2017. The GOP actions in stalling and attempting to subterfuge the President’s constitutional rights may result in backfiring on them.
No matter what the future holds, eleven months is a long time. And I would bet that President Obama has something up his sleeves to get his nominee appointed with or without the Republians.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines, a trial lawyer and former prosecutor, is admitted to the Supreme Court.