The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sparked an immediate declaration from Republicans that the next president should nominate his replacement.
The speed at which Republicans pushed partisan politics into the national conversation before the nation had a chance to react and mourn Scalia’s death is astonishing and unseemly.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican presidential candidates immediately said that the responsibility to nominate Scalia’s replacement should fall to the winner of the 2016 election and not to President Barack Obama.
This is an outrageous declaration.
Obama has pledged to nominate a replacement in “due time,” which is his right.
Obama will remain as president until January 2017. He has the constitutional right to nominate Scalia’s replacement. The Republican-controlled Senate should give his nominee a fair and impartial hearing. It would be a dereliction of duty for the nation to go for so many months without a replacement.
For the good of the nation, the Senate should act and confirm a qualified nominee and stop playing politics.
Unfortunately considering today’s overly contentious political climate this is wishful thinking unless President Obama and American voters pressure Republicans to act.
The Republicans’ reaction to the death of Scalia adds even more weight to the decision voters will make in November’s general election. The prospect of Obama’s successor nominating a Supreme Court justice immediately after taking office is another factor for voters to consider when evaluating the contenders.
Scalia was a hero of conservatives during his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, and opponent to many civil rights and progressive causes. He openly ridiculed claims made by university administrators that building a diverse student body or maintaining student diversity in classrooms served an educational or greater social purpose.
Scalia argued that requiring nine Southern states, all with a history of discrimination, to “pre-clear” changes to voting procedures with the Justice Department is now needless interference with “state sovereignty”.
The Supreme Court now is divided between four liberal and four typically conservative justices.
With three other justices older than 75, the next president could have other vacancies during his or her tenure, even if Obama fills Scalia’s seat.
Voters should take this in consideration when choosing the next president.