Monday, February 15, 2016

Open Letter to Mitch McConnell

The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sent shockwaves through the nation in general and political process in particular this weekend. Arguably more shocking than the death of a 79 year old man from a heart attack was the immediate "spin" from Speaker McConnell's office that (and I quote):
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.
Today's editorial in the Los Angeles Times says it concisely and well:
This is self-serving sophistry. The American people do have a voice in any nomination Obama makes. They “spoke” when they elected him to a second term that has 11 months remaining. His authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is no more diminished by his supposed lame-duck status than any of his other constitutional powers.
I am grateful for the friend who posted this link on Facebook to contact Speaker McConnell's office and giving me the opportunity to say:
Dear Mr. McConnell,

I was raised by Goldwater Republicans to honor our legacy as a constitutional democracy. I was taught -- and I still believe -- that with all its flaws our system of governance remains the best hope of representing the greatest number of citizens toward the goal of liberty and justice for all to which we aspire as a nation.

Raised with those values, I am quite frankly gobsmacked at your utter abdication of the Senate oath you swore to protect our Constitution against all enemies -- foreign and domestic -- expressed in your indefensible position that the duly elected President of the United States should abdicate his constitutional responsibility to fill the now vacant Supreme Court seat.

We are better people than that, Mr. McConnell. My Republican parents taught me that. Please reconsider your ludicrously partisan position for the sake of this country we all love.

(The Reverend) Susan Russell
Pasadena, CA
Do feel not only free but encouraged to go and do likewise.

1 comment:

RonF said...

My personal position on the matter is that the Senate should go ahead and call in the President's nominee and hold hearings. My guess is that whoever Pres. Obama nominates will view the Constitution as a "living" document that Justices should interpret in different ways depending on circumstances to reach what the Justice thinks is the culturally appropriate outcome. The Senators should then compare this to what Justice Scalia once said - "It's a legal document. It says some things and does not say others." - and then publicly reject his nominee on the basis that it's the job of the legislatures (Congress in the case of the law and the State legislatures in the case of a Constitutional amendment), not the judiciary, to fit the law to society's needs, and ask him to send another. Obama is certainly not going to send them a nominee that WILL, in fact, treat the Constitution like a legal document, so there will be a couple of iterations of this and then it WILL, in fact, be too close to the election, the Senators running for re-election will be out of D.C. and back in their States campaigning and it'll be all over until Jan. 20th, 2017.

But that's not going to happen, because Sen. O'Connell knows that some of the GOP Senators will cave and vote for such a nominee, and he knows that the conservative part of the GOP base will then outright revolt and the Senate will lose it's majority. The Democrats' position is weakened because a) while the President has the right and power to send a nominee to Congress, the Senate has the right and power to refuse to give them a vote (as has happened with 25 of the 160 nominees an American President has sent to the Senate), and b) they themselves in times past have called for similar action when there was a Republican President nearing the end of his term.

Some pundits are claiming that the refusal to hold a vote (or even hearings) will cost the GOP some Senate seats. I don't think so, myself. In order to do that the refusal to hold hearings would have to motivate GOP voters to either stay home or vote Democratic - not exactly likely - or would motivate Democratic-leaning voters who would have otherwise stayed home to get out and vote. I'm thinking that if people who are in the latter category are not motivated by everything else going on to get out and vote, it's unlikely that this will. That's just my personal opinion, I don't have any survey results or anything to back it up.