The sudden and somewhat mysterious death and no autopsy of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has brought out the hypocrisy of both major political parties and it started less than 24 hours after the announcement of his death.
Republicans quickly announced that they wanted the person who wins the presidential election in November to select Scalia’s replacement on the bench. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he will block any nominee that Obama selects, saying:
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Most of the GOP presidential candidates echoed McConnell’s decision. They are hoping for victory in November that would lead to their selection of another conservative who respects the US Constitution as it is written as did Scalia. They are certain that Obama will select another liberal like his last two selections who want to re-interpret and re-write the US Constitution into what they want it to say.
On the flip side of the very partisan issue, Democrats are attacking the Republicans, claiming that they have a Constitutional duty to conduct fair hearings and a fair vote on whoever Obama nominates to the Supreme Court. For example, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded to McConnell’s announcement, saying:
“He doesn’t even know who the president’s going to propose and he said, ‘No, we’re not having hearings; we’re not going to go forward to leave the Supreme Court vacant at 300 days in a divided time.’”
Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are saying that the selection of Supreme Court nomination should not be a partisan political issue, yet that’s exactly what it’s always been. Every president appoints someone who will favor their political views. Conservatives select conservative justices and liberals select liberal justices. Ronald Reagan, a strong conservative president selected Scalia, a strong conservative judge. Barack Obama, a flaming liberal selected Kagan and Sotomayor, both flaming liberals to the bench. If this isn’t partisan politics, then what is?
Further proof of the political hypocrisy surrounding the selection and approval of a new Supreme Court goes back to 2006 when President George W. Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the bench. Democrats launched a filibuster in an attempt to block the nomination. Then Sen. Obama joined the filibuster stating that Alito was ‘contrary to core American values, not just liberal values.’ The only views that Alito held were contrary to those of Obama, not America but then Obama believes he is America and everyone and everything should believe the same way he does. He has no tolerance for anyone who disagrees with his anti-American views.
Both sides have used partisan politics to block and approve Supreme Court nominees and I doubt that will ever change, but is the Senate obligated by the Constitution to hold hearings and approve Obama’s nominee as Democrats claim? John Yoo, former Justice Department official under Bush stated:
“The appointment is critical not just because it comes during a presidential-election year. The Supreme Court is finely balanced between conservatives and liberals at a time when it still rushes to confront the most controversial issues of the day. Cases on immigration, affirmative action, religion, abortion, and free speech, among others, sit on the Court’s docket right now, awaiting decision. As the Court is now split 4–4 between conservatives and liberals, this November’s elections will serve as a referendum on these issues and whether the conservative revolution in constitutional law will continue…”
“Republican senators and the presidential candidates should reject the claim that they have an obligation to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy before the election. Senator Harry Reid, for example, declared that ‘it would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat.’ He continued: ‘Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential constitutional responsibilities.’ Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded that the next president should fill the vacancy.”
“We should recognize first the Senate has no constitutional obligation to fill any vacancies on the courts or in the executive branch. Article II of the Constitution gives the president the power to appoint justices, but only with ‘the advice and consent’ of the Senate. It does not require that the Senate give the president’s nomination approval, or a rejection, any more than it requires the Senate to quickly give its advice and consent to a treaty negotiated by the president…The Senate can confirm, reject, or just sit on the nominee, just as it can with any other proposal from the executive branch. Its right to delay or reject nominees is an important weapon in the constant struggle for advantage between the executive and the legislative branches.”
Liberal media is quick to disagree as did Amanda Marcotte in the liberal media Salon:
“In an astounding display of partisan pettiness that is low even for their bottom-feeding standards, Republicans came together as one within hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death to register their outrage that this Barack Obama fellow dare suggest he should nominate a replacement, just because the Constitution, which every conservative swears he sleeps with under his pillow at night, says he should.”
“The disingenuous posturing about how a president who has an entire year left in his term should simply stop doing his job is even more transparent than usual. Everyone knows the real reason is the conservative base has never accepted that a black Democrat could be a legitimately elected President, and after 7 years of having to live with a President the majority of white voters voted against, Republicans are going to use this as a chance to throw a nationwide temper tantrum.”
‘The next few weeks, possibly months (possibly 11 months!) are going to suck for whatever sacrificial lamb (or lambs) Obama throws up for the Republicans to reject in an impotent attempt to register their continuing anger that he just keeps sitting in the White House like the duly elected President he is. But for the rest of the Democrats, this is going to be a political boon.”
So the typical rhetoric of calling for non-partisan action to fulfill Scalia’s vacant seat will continue to use partisan politics to accomplish their alleged non-partisan politics. Both sides will point fingers and accuse the other of doing the same thing they themselves had done in past years. It’s sad to see how the death of a hero among conservatives brings out the liberal hypocrisy of everyone, conservatives and liberals alike.
On the flip side, Scalia often said he liked to argue which is why he went into practicing law and maybe the arguments that will follow for the next 9 months would have made Scalia quite happy after all, because there’s going to be a lot of hypocritical arguing for months to come.