Thursday, February 18, 2016

Do Your Job!

The untimely death* of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has had the collateral effect of tremendously enlarging the diameter of the rings of the Congressional three-ring circus. Justice Scalia's body was still warm when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) grandly announced that Congress would refuse to take up any nomination President Obama made to fill the vacancy, citing a supposed policy** that mandates that lame duck presidents are not permitted to make judicial appointments in the last year of their term.***

If we needed any more evidence of the utter bankruptcy of sober statesmanship in Congress, this provided it.

I can understand that Republicans - obsessed with their hatred for President Obama and liberal Democrats - would reflexively oppose giving him the opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. But announcing up front - before any nomination had even been considered, much less announced - that Congress would take no action on any nomination until after the election is so blatantly unconstitutional that one wonders why Republican heads don't explode from sheer gall overdose. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, states that "[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to ... appoint Judges of the supreme Court." It doesn't state that "[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to ... appoint Judges of the supreme Court, except when he's in his final term of office." For those who loudly rail about "original intent" and "strict constructionism," this is some pretty amazing mental contortionism.

I understand the Republican fear that the President might appoint an "activist" judge who would "legislate from the bench." They argue that important issues of policy must be settled in the legislature and not in the courts ... we have, after all, an entire branch of government that is supposed to be devoted to legislating, and it's not the judicial branch. This, however, presupposes that we have a functioning legislature ... which we don't. Legislation from the bench starts to look like a reasonable alternative when lawmakers don't execute their responsibility to legislate from the legislature.

A few years back in my office we had a mantra we were fond of chanting when we were faced with intransigent or lazy behavior on the part of other offices ... drawn out and spoken with a deep growl of disgust, it went,

"Dew yer jaaaaahhhhhbbbbb!!"

I'm saying that a lot lately as I observe the clown show where Congress used to be.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Can a death be timely? Discuss.

** The so-called "Thurmond Rule."

*** This is the same policy to which Senator McConnell was inflexibly opposed when Democrats tried to invoke it.

† As it happens, I agree.


Atomic Dog said...

The Constitution sounds to me that both are involved: the President to name, the Senate to consent. Historically, on a few occasions the Senate failed to consent.

Consenting does not imply rubber stamping.

Mike said...

Maybe Obama can sneak a recess appointment through.

allenwoodhaven said...

I agree bilbo. Look at historical precedent. Of course fact based opinions are a rare thing these days...

eViL pOp TaRt said...

They should see who is nominated first, and not reject out of hand.