A New Stare Decisis: Let the Court Stand
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The death of a public figure is never met with something as simple as mourning. In Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s case, death was met with an ultimatum and conflict over the empty Court seat he left behind.
Too early, some argued, to be respectful of the dead, the Republican-majority Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, proclaimed that it would not under any circumstances approve President Obama’s nominee, even suggesting the president shouldn’t nominate anyone and neglect his constitutional duty. Democrats responded in an uproar, citing the Constitution’s words that give the president that very power. But, as Republicans retorted, the Constitution’s words also gave the Senate the power to block nominations.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “[the president] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court.” Obviously, the Republican Senate is in the wrong for telling the president not to nominate someone, basically spitting on the Constitution’s fairly clear words. Yet, as both Parties are asserting only one part of the Section, this phrase gives both the president and the Senate power in this struggle. In all honesty, that only makes the situation harder because no one is a clear winner. The Constitution does not say that the President trumps the Senate or vice versa. That said, neither group can be written off as completely wrong, so the Senate deserves more understanding for its actions.
As background information, Merrick Garland, the man President Obama ultimately nominated, is completely qualified and was previously considered for the court in 2009 and 2010. In that respect, he probably should be considered for the Court. He is an alum of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, is previously respected by both Democrats and Republicans, and has experience in the D.C. District Courts.
President Obama created the perfect storm for the Senate in this moderate, qualified, and overall pleasant nominee. In fact, he seems to be the opposite of Scalia, who was constantly the center of controversy as a stanch conservative. The Senate looks absolutely heartless for not even holding hearings for a man who “sold his comic book collection” to get through Harvard Law School, but that’s not all there is to it. The point isn’t that Garland is a good nominee; the point is that he would not stand up for values- such as the Second Amendment- that conservatives need him to. That in mind, the Senate has the right to deny the nominee if the majority of the chamber agrees on the denial.
Governmental procedures are not black and white and have gray areas stretching for miles and miles in the ambiguous language of the Constitution. So, with the political ideology of SCOTUS hanging in the balance with this nomination, the Republican senators are fighting an ideological battle that they believe is right for the country while President Obama is performing his civic duty. It’s hard to say who is, without a doubt, correct, but the Senate is certainly justified in not laying down and succumbing to the president’s will.
It is absolutely essential to remember that the senatorial majority is not denying the nomination for fun or to even give the president grief; those representatives are speaking for many Americans who adhere to similar values. It’s impossibly hard to imagine forgetting your political standing to objectively approve a Justice. Senators live and breathe politics and views that are deeply ingrained in who they are.
In a nutshell, the Senate is supposed to speak for the people who elected them. The president is not a king or a dictator who should get his way just because of his title. The Senate exists for a reason, and this is it.