The recent spat between Republicans and Democrats over whether or not President Obama should or should not nominate a replacement to the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia wasn’t the worst inter-party bickering we’ve seen. It was only the most recent example showcasing, yet again, how dysfunctional and embarrassing our government has become.
It was silly from the start. One, President Obama will or will not nominate a replacement as he see fit. The GOP’s opinion will not particularly matter except, perhaps, to strengthen his resolve to do so.
Two, the GOP is in control of the United States Senate. Since the Constitution specifies the Senate must confirm the president’s nominee, they can block anyone they want. The GOP not even waiting a respectful interval after Scalia’s death only made them look childish and petty.
It would not be the first time the US Senate rejected a president’s Supreme Court nominee. Some research, in fact, shows a long history of this, the first Senate rejection coming during the Washington Administration. Over the centuries the Senate has said no – either through outright rejection, declining to vote or even having the president withdraw the nomination – 29 times.
Obama should nominate someone. If he does not, or if the Senate rejects the nomination, the earliest a new justice will be seated late April, 2017. This presumes the new president makes his nomination immediately after his inaugural speech and there are no bumps in the road.
This would provide for a vacant seat for well over a year. This an awfully long time for the Supreme Court to have an even number of justices, especially a court ideologically split 4-4. It will not only affect rulings but also whether or not the court hears cases in the first place.
The end result could either be a fiasco or it could be good for the country. Obama could nominate someone favorable only to the most extreme liberal elements of the Democratic Party and have his nominee rejected. Or, and I know we’re dreaming here, it could result in a rather useful candidate acceptable to all sides, someone who will serve our country well for the next couple-three decades.
Whether it does or it doesn’t, this whole episode has shown our government at its most partisan, bickering, fractured worst. The blame is ours; we elected everyone there.
The good news is the government we want is never farther away than the next election. All we have to do is have the courage to go get it. It starts with you and it starts with me and it starts this November.
Gaylon looks forward to your comments. Feel free to leave them in the comments section.