If the Republican Party of 2016 were students of history, and not just do-nothing nihilists, they would vote on the new Supreme Court Justice within a day or two of Obama nominating him. Even if there were hearings to discuss the “fitness” of the candidate, the vote shouldn’t take more than a month. The NYT made a handy-dandy graphic for reference.
The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.
But as we all know, the Republicans’ main gambit during the Obama administration has been “party over country”, as proven again and again and again by their actions of delaying the simplest action.
I bet you didn’t realize that the term of the president has been truncated, now it isn’t four years, but three years, per the GOP anyway.
So what to do? Sally Kohn argues Obama should make a recess appointment:
Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: “Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Last we all checked, President Obama is the President of the United States. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is his privilege and responsibility. Republicans, incidentally, are pointing to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who Senate Democrats successfully blocked. But Democrats didn’t announce, hours after the vacancy was created and before any names were floated, that they would unanimously block any justice Reagan would nominate. Their opposition was specifically limited to Bork. And when Bork was blocked and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Today, Republicans haven’t declared their opposition to a specific candidate. They have declared their opposition to President Obama nominating anyone. So what are President Obama’s options? Since he has said he will nominate a justice to fill the vacancy and not bow to this ridiculous Republican temper tantrum, my sense is he has two realistic options. The first is to nominate a superstar moderate to fill the vacancy—someone it will be very politically hard for Republicans to oppose.
Obama’s second option is a recess appointment. It just so happens that the Senate is currently in recess until Feb. 22nd. While a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 constrained such appointments, the way Senate Republicans have taken this current break might make it possible for President Obama to legally make an appointment.…Obama has strong wind at his sails to do this, with McConnell and others already declaring their blanket opposition to backing any nominee, and I’m not gonna lie, it would be a really powerful “Fuck you” gesture to make to a Republican Party that has been nothing but problematically petulant since Obama took office.
(click here to continue reading Obama has two choices in filling the Scalia vacancy – Quartz.)
My guess is that “No Drama” Obama won’t choose this path though, despite it being reasonable. I do hope Obama at least nominates a candidate in a week or so, and then consistently pushes the Senate to perform its “advise and consent” role. Lame-duck interm appointments and executive appointments may be frowned upon (for some reason), but Obama has more than 300 days left in his term! My understanding of lame-duck was it is from November of an election year to the next inauguration the following January.
Joan Walsh has more on that topic:
Leave it to Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell to defile Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s “originalist” constitutional legacy, when he’d barely been gone 24 hours. McConnell says President Obama can’t appoint Scalia’s successor; the choice must be left to “a new president,” although Obama has more than 11 months left in his term.
Thus did McConnell seem to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution to strip a year from the president’s final term. All 43 presidents before him had four-year terms (unless they died in office or resigned, of course), but when it comes to arguably the president’s most important job, McConnell would limit Obama to three years.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Note to McConnell: A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama, twice. He is the first American president to get more than 50 percent of the popular vote, twice, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is in fact our right to have a voice in the selection of a justice. Obama is our voice.
(click here to continue reading Mitch McConnell Wants Obama to Have a 3-Year Last Term | The Nation.)
as does Senator Elizabeth Warren:
The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.
Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.” Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself.
It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.
(click here to continue reading (2) U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.)
We’ll see what happens, I suspect the topic will be in the news until the Democratic Party nominee wins the 2016 election.