Scalia’s Vacancy Unprecedented
The death of Antonin Scalia over the weekend in Texas puts America into uncharted territory in the midst of a heated Presidential election year. Democrats will try to point in vain to the confirmation of Anthony Kennedy in the final year of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency but that was very different. First Kennedy was nominated in November of 1987 and confirmed in February of 1988 and only after Democrats had blocked the nomination of Robert Bork during the summer of 1987. These circumstances are very different.
You will hear Democrats like Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy howling that the US Senate, which is controlled by Republicans must confirm a Supreme Court Justice put forth by Barack Obama and point to the Constitution. The problem is, there simply are no requirements or a timetable for the Senate to hold hearings or a vote for that matter to be found in the Constitution. It is highly amusing and ironic that such rhetoric would even come from Leahy who has famously said that no nominees should be granted to a lame duck President in the last year of his term. Of course he only says that when a Republican is in the White House. His tune and tone are very different when it’s a Democrat in the Oval Office.
The bottom line is- the United States Senate can take it’s sweet time to make a move or make no move at all. The President has to get 60 Senators on board for a 2/3rds majority. He may get some GOP votes by pressuring those in tight races like Kelly Ayotte in new Hampshire or Ron Johnson in Wisconsin but the Republican firewall is likely to hold fast on this one. You see if it doesn’t voters will send Republicans home in large numbers.
So here is the dilemma for Republican Senators in tight races, they can not move forward on a nomination and risk upsetting voters and losing their seats or they can move on a Supreme Court nominee and lose their seats for sure. I have been talking to many of my conservative friends around the nation and they are clear- any Republican moving to have the vacancy on the court filled before election day will likely be enjoying their last time on the ballot.
And honestly what’s wrong with letting the new President put up a nominee? If Democrats are so confident that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is going to win in the fall- then relax you will get the nominee you want and if the GOP wins then that is what America wants. It seems to be the appropriate path to take.
However this is an election year and we have a President that doesn’t seem to like rules that apply to him very often. I mean the Supreme Court with Scalia already struck down so called ‘recess appointments’ by Obama as unconstitutional.
And what will it mean in the short run? Well any votes that are deadlocked at 4-4 will revert to the lower court ruling and that favors Republicans in the short term. It means tough abortion laws in Texas will stand. It means a crack down on Executive Orders on immigration will stand. However it means the Presidents Clean Power Plan will be back on track as it was upheld by the lower court and will stand.
So what about a recess appointment? Well from my understanding the President does have one window of opportunity that will occur on January 3, 2017. That is the day the new Congress takes is seated and prior to the new President being sworn in and I believe he may be able to make a recess appointment that will be in effect for 17 days. What will that mean? That is anybody’s guess right now.
Well politics sure can be messy in America and that’s the way it was designed by the framers of the Constitution.
The battle lines are being drawn- the falsehoods are already being thrown about and the sad thing is, most Americans that vote don’t know enough about the Constitution to pass a 5th grade history test.
But make no mistake- Antonin Scalia’s death may have been most consequential political death in a generation. That is certainly true and there is no doubt it’s timing is an unprecedented event in American political history.