While taking high school civics, students learn that the U.S. Supreme Court consists of eight associate justices and a chief justice. They also learn that Article 2, Section 2 and Clause 2 of the Constitution states that the Presidents “shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate to appoint judges of the Supreme Court.”
With the Supreme Court having the final authority to determine whether a law is acceptable under the Constitution, this gives the president’s appointees a great chance to influence life in the United States for a considerable amount of time since Supreme Court justices serve for life. And don’t forget, a Supreme Court decision becomes the law of the land.
Due to the recent, unexpected death of Antonin Scalia, the first Italian-American justice and the Court’s staunchest conservative, the present Supreme Court has only eight members, giving President Obama an opportunity to nominate someone to fill the vacancy.
From what has been said and done concerning the battle over the Supreme Court nomination, many court watchers have taken a front seat to witness the drama unfold. And most likely the drama will continue to intensify since President Obama has already named the D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy, with the Republican-controlled Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, vowing not to hold hearings on the president’s nominee.
By all accounts, Judge Garland is a candidate with solid legal credentials, a model judge, according to many observers, and someone who is respected by both Democrats and Republicans as a man of integrity, judgement and intellect. So, what’s the problem? With the majority of the American people supporting the call to hold hearings on the nomination, why are Republican Senators refusing to allow President Obama to fulfill his constitutional duty to appoint the late Justice Scalia’s successor.
When the American people re-elected President Obama to a second term in November 2012, they elected him to a second four-year term which doesn’t end until Jan. 20, 2017. So, this opposition to President Obama’s nomination makes no sense. Too, the public wants a fair hearing and a timely vote in the Senate.
Unfortunately, the Republican party has been hijacked by “a far-right reactionary movement hell-bent on turning back the clock,” with many in the movement critical of President Obama at every turn. Many in the Republican base share this sentiment and are forcing mainstream Republicans to oppose any vote on confirming judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.
So, this recent attempt to block the confirmation of Judge Garland is just more of the shameful treatment President Obama has received from the Republican majority in Congress, led in part by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Republicans should join the Democrats and do their job. It is their duty to the American people to give this nominee their consideration. Really, it’s time for this partisan warfare to end.
Larry Sutton is a former teacher at Clinton High School.