When a really big controversy hits I usually like to give it a month or two to see where things settle. But for this one I couldn’t wait. This one is a beauty.
I watched TV news and saw two parties talking past each other. The Democrats were saying that of course the President should do his Constitutional duty and nominate a replacement for Judge Scalia. Republicans were saying that they have the power in the Senate and would definitely turn down an Obama appointee or simply won’t go to the trouble of acting since it is a fait accompli.
Instead of focusing on the obvious story talking heads have already wasted enough hours to write the definitive almanac on love. Experts continue to discuss and debate the meaning of the remaining months of Obama’s time in office. They debated if he is a lame duck or not. They went on endlessly about the difference between a vote and not having a vote. They talked about Senator Schumer and what he said in 2007 compared to what he said last week. We have heard people analyze court appointees who were denied hearings in the past. Then there is the issue of whether or not today's voters should determine the choice.
All that discussion is juicy but meaningless for today’s question. What no one seems to want to say is the obvious – we have a President and a majority party that are driven by ideology. Hillary was saying that even if President Obama nominated a moderate and reasonable judge – those darned Republicans would not give her a hearing. But folks – let’s be realistic. Is there a snowball’s chance in Hell that he would nominate such a person? Obama has publicly hated many of the decisions of the current Supreme Court. Remember Citizens United? That case is always and everywhere lamented by Democrats who would love the chance to have it overturned. Obama is being sued by groups who want to overturn many of his presidential directives as well as his prize legislation, Obamacare. Are you telling me that Obama would nominate someone who would threaten liberal progressive values?
Obama will nominate a justice who will turn the tide of opinion on the Supreme Court. This new justice will allow the liberals on the court to have their sway and by all means the new court will get many chances to support Obama and to tear apart anything those hated Republicans want done or changed.
So what are good Republicans to do? Basically there is only one thing they can do. They can stall the process so that the next President might not have such clear ideological and political goals. It makes absolutely no sense for Republicans to not use their Constitutional prerogative to turn down anyone the President might nominate. But why waste everyone’s time? So they are just telling the president to hold off.
This debate has nothing to do with the Constitution and nothing to do with what past presidents have done near the ends of their terms. It is not about democracy. This debate is like everything else going on now – it is about people at the ideological ends pointing fingers and yelling at each other. Us folks in the middle keep shaking our heads and wonder how we got to such a place. Obama and liberals want to preserve the Obama legacy or at least prevent conservative decisions later this year. Thus they want Obama to appoint a progressive friend. Republicans want to tear apart Obama’s encroachments and move the court in a more conservative direction. They do not want Obama to appoint a progressive friend.
So now we have one more thing for the Democrats and Republicans to argue about in the coming election. Instead of admitting that the Court appointment is a political issue the Democrats will say the Republicans are obstructionists who won’t allow the President to fulfill his Constitutional responsibility. The Republicans will counter that the Senate has a Constitutional duty to not agree to Obama’s nominee.
Does this surprise anyone who lives in a bifurcated America these days? The extremes have taken over and EVERYTHING has become political. Compromise is seen by both sides as a cop out. Each side clings to "It is our way or the highway". Why would appointing someone to the Supreme Court be any different? Pretty soon I will have to choose between a Republican brand of JD and a competing Democratic brand. What a mess.