With the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a one-of-a-kind legal intellect and trailblazer for women, political tensions on both sides of the aisle are likely to reach a new high as President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rush to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Liberal activists and Democratic Senators are already preparing for a fight in hopes that they can protect the Affordable Care Act (the Court will begin hearing oral arguments for a lawsuit that will decide the Act’s fate on Nov. 10, but a ruling is unlikely to come until June) and Roe v. Wade from potentially being overturned.
Former Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called out McConnell’s hypocrisy for refusing to consider confirming Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia, in 2016 and 2020 Democratic Presidential nominee, Vice President Joe Biden has called on McConnell to delay filling Ginsburg’s seat until after the election.
Everyone who keeps up with the news in the United States knows that Senator McConnell is doing this purely for a power-grab on the nation’s highest court. He was wrong to block Judge Garland from being considered for the Court in 2016 and he is hypocritical now for vowing to hold a Senate vote on President Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Ginsburg. However, this does not mean that the President should not nominate a judge to succeed Justice Ginsburg.
The so-called “Biden rule”, which says that if a vacancy on the Court occurs during an election year, the Senate should not consider a nominee until the new President takes office, is a poor political excuse for obstructing the President from executing his duty. This rule has been abused by both Democrats and Republicans and if we truly care about upholding the Constitution, we should scrap it altogether.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:
Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”
Section 2 of that same Article states, “He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.”
The President is elected by the American people to serve a term of 4 full years. The responsibility of the President to nominate judges to the Supreme Court does not magically disappear during an election year no matter what Senator McConnell or Vice President Biden says. They are both wrong. The disgraced Majority Leader has proven that he has no interest in legitimately protecting and defending the Constitution even though he has taken an oath to do so, but two wrongs don’t make a right.
The Constitution gave President Obama the authority to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia in 2016 and it gives President Trump the authority to nominate a successor to Justice Ginsburg now. The Senate should fulfill its duty to “advise and consent,” as it should’ve in 2016 rather than obstruct the President for partisan political ends. Let us remember that even though Justice Ginsburg was a liberal lion, she was confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 96-3.
As a supporter of the Affordable Care Act and a woman’s right to choose, I am concerned about which judge the President will nominate to succeed Justice Ginsburg, but I don’t believe in playing partisan political games with Supreme Court nominees. The President’s nominee should be evaluated on their legal qualifications rather than their personal political or religious views.
The Supreme Court is not meant to be a partisan political organization. It is meant to be the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution that guarantees every American citizen “equal justice under the law”. It is time for us to start treating it as such.
Dakota Layton graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He is currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi where he is working to earn his Master of Arts in Philosophy.