ACTION ALERT: Tell the Senate: 'Do Your Job'
February 16, 2016
Anna Galland / MoveOn & Jennifer Bendery / The Huffington Post
Commentary: If the GOP plans to spend the next year blocking every potential Supreme Court nominee that Obama puts forward, it would be a major break from tradition -- since 1975, the average number of days from the nomination of a Supreme Court justice to a final Senate vote is 67. In 1988, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to confirm a Supreme Court nominee during Ronald Reagan's final year in office.
Special to Environmentalist Against War
ACTION ALERT: Tell the Senate: 'Do Your Job'
Anna Galland / MoveOn.org Civic Action
WASHINGTON (February 15, 2016) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away yesterday. President Obama offered his condolences to Justice Scalia's family, ordered flags to be flown at half-mast, and pledged to do his job and nominate a new justice for consideration by the Senate. (1, 2)
Republicans wasted no time in turning to partisan politics. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced that "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” (3)
Hours later, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said that President Obama shouldn't get to appoint the next justice. (4) And this morning, Senator Ted Cruz vowed to filibuster any Obama nominee. (5)
We can't let Republicans keep a Supreme Court seat vacant for more than a year due to purely partisan obstructionism. Let's make sure Republican senators do their job as defined in the Constitution: to advise and consent to the president's nominee.
Republicans may think it'll be good election year theater to refuse to consider President Obama's nominee. But the more signatures on our petition, the louder our message: It is critical to fill this vacancy—and anyone who abdicates their constitutional duty will be haunted by their choice through November and beyond.
When this rapid-response petition crosses 50,000 signatures, MoveOn will publicize it in Washington, D.C. and in the home state of any senator who is abdicating his or her responsibility by fighting for a prolonged and destructive vacancy on the court. Will you add your name and send your senators this message now?
From a woman's right to choose, to the ability of workers to organize, to how America can combat climate change, to efforts to craft a humane immigration policy, the Supreme Court is facing pressing topics that directly affect the lives of countless Americans.
Leaving a seat empty would reduce the court's ability to decide these matters, create costly uncertainty, and be a direct attack on one of the three branches of American government.
Many justices have been confirmed in election years before, including as recently as in 1988, when Senator McConnell and many other Republican senators voted to confirm Justice Anthony Kennedy. (6)
ACTION: Tell your senators and Senator McConnell: It's up to you to do your job as defined by the Constitution. As soon as President Obama announces a nominee, advise, consent, and move forward.
Thanks for all you do.
-- Anna, Justin K. Ann, Stephen, and the rest of the MoveOn team
1. "Political leaders and candidates react to Scalia's death; Obama vows to nominate successor," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2016
2. "The Latest: Scalia's Body Taken to Texas Funeral Home," ABC News, February 14, 2016
3. "Mitch McConnell Voted To Confirm A Supreme Court Justice In Reagan's Final Year," The Huffington Post, February 13, 2016
4. "The GOP's bitter South Carolina brawl," CNN, February 14, 2016
5. "Ted Cruz Plans to Filibuster Any Supreme Court Nominee Made by President Obama," ABC News, February 14, 2016
6. "Mitch McConnell Voted To Confirm A Supreme Court Justice In Reagan's Final Year," The Huffington Post, February 13, 2016
Mitch McConnell Voted To Confirm
A Supreme Court Justice In Reagan's Final Year
And so did every single Republican senator
Jennifer Bendery / The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON (February 13, 2016) -- Barely an hour after the news broke Saturday of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made it clear that he has no intention of letting President Barack Obama replace the conservative icon.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said in a statement. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."
Obama said he plans to name a nominee, but McConnell and other Republicans want to punt the issue to the next president because there's a chance that person will be a Republican, in which case the GOP will get a lifetime appointee they actually want.
If McConnell plans to spend the next year blocking every potential Supreme Court nominee that Obama puts forward, it would be a major break from tradition -- since 1975, the average number of days from the nomination of a Supreme Court justice to a final Senate vote is 67, per a Congressional Research Service report.
It would also represent a break with McConnell's personal history: In 1988, he voted to confirm a Supreme Court nominee when it was a Republican president's final year in office.
On Feb. 3, 1988, McConnell and literally every other GOP senator voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
This was during President Ronald Reagan's last year in the White House, and at a time when Democrats controlled the Senate. Kennedy was confirmed 97-0, with three Democrats -- Joe Biden, Al Gore and Paul Simon -- not voting at all because, presumably, they were busy running for president that year.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who currently chairs the Judiciary Committee, was among those Saturday arguing that the Senate isn't obligated to confirm Supreme Court picks when it's a president's last year in office.
"The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year," the Iowa Republican said in a statement.
But Grassley, too, voted to confirm Kennedy under Reagan.
To be fair, before Kennedy, Reagan had put forward two other Supreme Court nominees who went nowhere. The Senate rejected Robert Bork, and Reagan's second nominee, Douglas Ginsburg, withdrew amid a scandal involving weed. The seat on the Supreme Court court had been empty since July 1987, so by the time Kennedy was confirmed, it had been seven months.
The fundamental difference this time is that McConnell is telling Obama he shouldn't bother trying to get anyone through. That might be a first.
Jennifer Bendery is the White House and Congressional Reporter for The Huffington Post
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