U.S. Supreme Court Nomination Process Must Move Forward

by John Kirtley, III | April 14th, 2016

Supreme Court BuildingTo fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, as required by the U.S. Constitution, President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, a judicial moderate, who currently serves as chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to the United States Supreme Court. There is no question he is qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court. However, the Supreme Court’s ideological balance is up for grabs, and Garland’s nomination is the current obstructionist obsession with the Republican-controlled United States Senate.

The Constitution requires the Senate to give the President “advice and consent” (confirmation) for each nominee. The Senate’s role in this process is crucial for restoring a fully-functional Supreme Court. Currently, the Court has eight members which, in the event of a tie vote, would not establish any national precedent in any split decisions. This is only April. The current term of the Court ends June 30. A new term, of the Court, will not begin until Oct. 3, 2016, with many important cases to be decided in each term, through the end of Obama’s administration, which ends Jan. 20, 2017. Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has refused to consider the President’s nomination, much less even meet with him – as is Senate tradition.

As former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said, “I probably would’ve handled it differently,” Lott told CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast, produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. “My attitude, particularly on the Supreme Court, was that elections do have consequences, sometimes bad, and I tried to lean towards being supportive of the President’s nominees, Democrat or Republican.”

Elections DO have consequences. The Constitution has no silly “election year exception,” for the Senate to refuse to consider the President’s nomination. The President has done his job. The U.S. Senate must do theirs.