As President Obama gets closer to revealing his nomination for the next U.S. Supreme Court justice after Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing last month, Republicans in the Senate are more than adamant to block whomever it may be.
Obama still has every right to nominate the next justice. However, many Republicans feel that this new nomination could shift the balance of the court in favor of Democrats and have already vowed to block any nominee from being confirmed in the Senate.
However, this childish political stunt could have serious ramifications.
The situation is comparable to kids playing at team sport at recess. The kids on the team who happen to be wearing red shirts don’t want to help out teammates wearing blue shirts, even though everyone is essentially playing for the same team. In turn, the team suffers because players are not willing to work together.
This is an instance where both Republicans and Democrats guiding our country’s policies ought to work together.
The implications of Republicans blocking the Supreme Court nominee could hinder the court’s ability to decide on several pending controversial court cases dealing with abortion, affirmative action in college admissions, contraception, immigration, jury selection, public unions and voting rights.
With Scalia’s death, four of the remaining justices tend make more liberal decisions, and the other four tend to rule more conservatively. This means that most of the upcoming rulings are expected to end in a 4-4 vote between the justices without that ninth individual to break the tie. This is problematic because if there is a split decision on an issue, the ruling of the lower court, normally a state court, is upheld.
Many of the issues to be decided on are expected to end with a split decision. If the Republicans follow through and block whomever Obama nominates, the Supreme Court would essentially be ineffective and unable to make key decisions on many of these crucial cases.
Many Republicans will argue that it is better to wait until the next president has been elected before nominating a justice who is able to sit on the Supreme Court for the rest of his or her life. This is an attempt encourage voters to express what type of justice they want in the general election, which encourages a government for the people.
A president having a opportunity to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court during an election year has only happened five times in the past century. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated justices Louis Brandeis and John Clarke, both of whom were confirmed by the Senate. In 1932, President Herbert Hoover nominated Benjamin Cardozo, and he was confirmed in only 10 days. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Frank Murphy who was confirmed two weeks later. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson tried to elevate justice Fortas to chief justice and the move was withdrawn. Lastly, President Ronald Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed in 1988.
Some of the backlash comes from senator Charles Schumer, a prominent Democrat, who in 2007, vowed to block Supreme Court nominations by President George W. Bush. While Schumer voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both were confirmed before the next election.
When it comes down to it, each party ideally would like the power on the Supreme Court to shift in their favor when causes and issues politicians have been championing will be decided upon.
However, regardless of where you might fall on the political spectrum, it is indisputable that Obama is still the president of the United States until the newly elected president will be inaugurated next year.
Many of the controversial issues that are soon to be decided have been dividing our country along ideological and political lines for years now. It would be more beneficial for the Supreme Court to actually have the ability to make a decisive ruling on these key issues, whichever way the court may rule. Instead of perpetual political gridlock, it would be better to work as a team in order to have definitive answers and the ability move forward as a nation.