Merrick Garland

Debate: Are Senate Republicans Wrong for Refusing to Give the President’s Supreme Court Nominee a Hearing? Negative

It is a shame that both sides of the isle have turned the death of the great Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, into a political firestorm. However, with the possibility that the next Supreme Court justice can change the direction of the court and the meaning of law for the next quarter century– that firestorm is here.

Now that President Obama has made his choice in nominating Merrick Garland, the Senate will have the constitutional opportunity to deny his choice. Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and many conservatives have made it clear that they will take that opportunity. Conservatives have depended on Antonin Scalia’s constitutional decisions for many years and they do not trust Barrack Obama, who has not proven to be as fierce a defender of the Constitution as Scalia, to make such a consequential choice. That is why they have decided to take the political gamble and hold off on hearing Obama’s nomination and to let the next president in 2016— Democrat or Republican— make that decision.

Of course, Democrats are furious with the decision and are trying to shame them into submission, as if they haven’t been put in the same situation before. Democrats all over are interpreting the rules and making up precedents in their favor. President Barrack Obama said for the Republicans not to hear or vote for Judge Garland’s nomination would be “a betrayal of our best traditions and a betrayal of the vision of our founding documents.” He even said, “If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty– it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.”

Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, said “We must all support President Obama’s right to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia and demand that the Senate hold hearings and a vote on that successor.”

Senate Republicans could say “don’t listen to Democrats like Clinton and Obama” but that would depend on when they made their statements. When President Bush was trying to nominate Justice Samuel Alito in 2006, Barrack Obama said, “There are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee” and added, “That once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed. I disagree with this view.” To that point, yes, I agree with President Obama. Just because the President was voted into office, does not mean that he is not subject to the Senate’s duty of checking the power of the president. I wonder at which point he changed his mind.

In 2005, Mrs. Clinton enlightened us while she was in the Senate, “I believe this is one of the most important roles that the Senate plays” then said, “This, after all, is in the Constitution. We are asked to give advice and consent, or to deny advice and consent.” It’s funny that Mrs. Clinton is now ignoring what she said in 2005 because she actually made the most important point in this debate.

What matters most is not the rhetoric or made up precedents that require bias interpretation. What matters is what Hillary Clinton mentioned in 2005, which is Article II, Section II of the United States Constitution.

In clause two it says 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, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.”

The clause points out that the President has the right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice– which he did. However, it also points out that he shall do so with the “Advice and Consent of the Senate.” 

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Senate must confirm any Supreme Court nomination by the president. Nor does it say that they must give a hearing. As Mrs. Clinton pointed out in 2005, the Senate can choose to deny advice and consent. So the argument that the Republicans in the Senate are acting against precedent, breaking the rules, or acting unconstitutionally are false. They, like Justice Scalia did, are trying make sure that they defend the Constitution of the greatest country on God’s green Earth.