Justice Scalia’s passing is no doubt a great loss to his family and to our country. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family. His efforts to uphold the Constitution and our country’s founding principles will be sorely missed.
The President and I both agree that the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice is a responsibility that the President and the Senate share under the Constitution; however, it is ultimately the voice of the people that should be held in the highest regard when nominating our next Justice. This seat on the Supreme Court should not be used as a political tool to promote a legacy. Instead, it should be used as an opportunity to promote the will of the people.
Because it is an election year, the American people will make clear their preference when they elect our next President in November. This election should be seen as a great opportunity for the people to tell government exactly what they want from the Supreme Court in the decades to come. It is our next President, who should be responsible for nominating our next Justice to ensure that the people’s wants of the future, not of the past, are clearly represented.
The President’s argument that a strict reader of the Constitution would see the postponement of the nomination, to hear the voice of the people, as misleading is faulty at best. The Constitution certainly gives the President the ability to nominate a new Justice; however, he must do so with the advice and consent of the Senate.
To claim that the GOP is not doing its job by not considering a nominee from a lame duck President is simply incorrect. The Senate has advised the President that we are rightfully siding with the people who elected us, the people we work for, and that he should do the same. This advice virtually mimics the advice that Vice President Biden gave President Bush in 1992:
“ … it is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not - and not - name a nominee until after the November election is completed." (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S.16316-7, 6/25/1992)
I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, will stand firm on the principle that Americans should have input in determining who will be the next Supreme Court nominee. The last time the Senate confirmed a nominee in a similar situation was 128 years ago.
It has been widely understood that for over a hundred years a lame-duck President should not be making a lifetime appointment, and that is not something we should or will ignore. I will continue to fight for our country’s right to have a say in the future makeup of the Supreme Court; the next President must nominate a successor to Justice Scalia who upholds the Constitution and our founding principles.