With the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation is on the brink of what could turn out to be one of the most contentious appointments in history.
Appointed by Ronald Reagan, Scalia was staunchly conservative and interpreted the constitution closely. He was also notoriously anti-abortion, pro-death penalty and anti-affirmative action. Just weeks before his death, in fact, he was under fire for comments saying Black students would do better at “slower schools.”
Because Justice Scalia passed away during President Barack Obama’s administration, constitutionally, Obama has the power to nominate and appoint the next Justice, with the Senate’s approval. As we are all aware, some GOP members have vowed to refuse to consider any nominee that President Obama presents, and many believe that the next Justice should be decided by the next president of the United States.
In an effort to move forward, President Obama has been meeting with GOP members to discuss the next possible nominee, but, to no avail. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the GOP is rebuffing his appeals for hearings and a vote on his next nominee. “Senator Grassley and I made it clear that we don’t intend to take up a nominee or to have a hearing”, McConnell stated to reporters after the meeting.
Not to be deterred, President Obama remains insistent that the Senate adhere to their constitutional duty to “act on his nominee.” Though many names have been tossed around as hopefuls for the open seat, President Obama has yet to make a formal nomination.
So, How Does The Process Work?
Simply stated by Reuters , the traditional five step process involved in the nomination and subsequent appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is as such:
NOMINATION: The President of the United States, after careful consideration and consultation with his administrators and legal and political experts, brings forth a nominee to the Senate.
REVIEW: The Senate Judiciary Committee then begins the vetting process of the nominee. This includes personal background checks. Nominees tend to meet with senators on an individual basis to try to gain support for their appointment.
HEARING: Public hearings are held by The Senate Judiciary Committee, which are televised and lasts for several days.
ENDORSEMENT: The SJC then votes to fully recommend the nominee to the entire Senate or not. If the SJC is deadlocked, a nomination may proceed without an endorsement.
APPROVAL: The Senate holds floor debates regarding the nominee and then votes. A simple majority of the 100 senators is required for approval.
In the past, the nomination process has taken about 6 weeks, but in Obama’s position, it could take significantly longer.
How Does This Affect You ?
Reciting the United States Constitution, and as described on The Supreme Court website:
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.
The last time I checked, Barack Obama is STILL the President. Though many legal and political experts have a difference of opinion on the actual interpretation of the Constitution, specifically regarding Senate refusal to even acknowledge the President’s nominee, one thing is very clear, and that is the disrespect and power mongering that exists is despicable. Never in our history as a nation has this happened to any other president.
Scalia’s former seat will be critical in deciding key issues including gun control, reproduction rights, immigration and religious rights, to name a few. Because of that Republicans are desperate to block Obama’s nominee, all in the name of serving their own agendas.
We must hold our elected officials to task with making sure they are serving our nation with nothing but the best intentions. Every previous attempt to discredit or disrespect President Obama in the past has been futile. I look forward to the same result with this issue as well.