Game of Robes


MCT Photo

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to the State Bar of Texas. Part of what is making people fight over his replacement is that he was one of the most conservative Justices on the bench. If the Democrats can get thier preferred candidate in, the Supreme Court would be more moderate, lessening conservative influence.

Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13, the government has broken out into verbal warfare about who will be his replacement on the bench. While the Democrats want President Barack Obama to rush into nominating someone before he leaves, the Republicans are trying at all costs to stop him.

Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement, “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.”

This is short-sided thinking. McConnell, a Republican, is saying this under the assumption that a Republican will be the next president so that someone more conservative can be nominated for Supreme Court. What if the extremely liberal Bernie Sanders won the presidency? This would fare even worse for him than the more moderate Obama.

Other critics like Senator Marco Rubio are worried that nobody Obama nominates will have the same strict constitutional interpretation as Scalia had, so therefore he should not be allowed to nominate anyone. This is high ironic considering what the Constitution says.

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution states, “[The President] shall have the power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to… appoint… Judges of the Supreme Court…”

Few find this incongruity funnier than the President himself who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

President Obama said at a news conference, “The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. … There’s no unwritten law that says it can only be done in off years,… I’m amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters suddenly reading into it provisions that are not there.”

It is unlikely that either side will let up in their efforts to get a preferential Supreme Court nominee. With all of the fighting in the presidential ring and now in the Senate, US politics are becoming a proverbial bloodbath.