Editorial

New justice needed

President Obama should select justice

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court died on Feb. 13, immediately sparking a political debate between Democrats and Republicans.

Right away, presidential hopefuls such as Sen. Ted Cruz vocalized their opposition to President Obama nominating Scalia’s replacement on the bench. On Twitter, Cruz wrote, “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.”

Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, concurred within hours of Scalia’s death being confirmed, saying 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.”

Democrats, namely Hillary Clinton, were equally vocal in pushing back, asserting the  president’s right to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice.

“The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution,” Clinton said in a statement via Twitter. “The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons.”

We The Threefold Advocate agree that it would be prejudiced and selfish for the Senate to flatly reject any of President Obama’s nominees. It is an outright disregard of the Constitution. As stated in Article Two, Section Two, the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States…”

In addition, waiting to nominate a justice for nearly a year before the next president is sworn into office could cause problems in the Supreme Court. If, for example, the eight remaining justices are split on a decision, not only could this cause important cases to be thrown out, but it would shake the reliability of the court.

This is not to mention, of course, how a nominee’s rejection will make the Senate Republicans look to the American people. Putting their own agenda before the development of  constitutional law is petty and partisan, and by saying they will deny any of Obama’s nominees just goes to show how little they care to work together on important political decisions.

It is understandable that the Senate Republicans and presidential candidates want to get a conservative judge on the Supreme Court; however, according to the widely circulated shortlist, many of Obama’s potential top picks are moderates.

In addition, the Supreme Court is—for the most part—ideologically balanced, with justices Sotomayer, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan leaning liberal and justices Alito, Thomas, Roberts and Kennedy leaning conservative. Before his death, Scalia had grown increasing liberal in his jurisprudence, according to a report from the University of California Berkeley Law School. Because of this equally split court, it is even more urgent that President Obama nominate a new justice.