The late Justice Antonin Scalia always championed originalism, or adherence to the original words of the Constitution. However, in scrambling to fight President Obama’s recent replacement of the justice to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans are completely ignoring the Constitution.
Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is more than fit for the job. Judge Garland’s qualifications are unmatched in past nominations. He has worked nineteen years as a federal judge on the appeals court and has had previous experience as a law clerk. Previous justices have not had nearly the amount of experience and undeniable competency that Merrick Garland would add to the court.
The Republicans’ refusal to even consider any of the President’s nominees is unprecedented. It is the Senate’s Constitutional duty to consider and provide advice on potential justices. Senators need to do their job and fairly judge whether a nominee is competent, qualified, and experienced. Merrick Garland is all of that and more- unfortunately, senators are refusing to swallow their pride and nominate a man who deserves the position. Scalia was nominated with a vote of 98-0. Current Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated 96-3. The Senate once judged nominees based on how well they have been able to interpret the laws in their careers. Now senators use dirty tricks to prevent deserving, decorated judges from being nominated, simply for each party’s personal gains. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, a right-wing justice nominated by George Bush, recently questioned the senators’ actions in recent nominations. Roberts remarked that the their votes were “strictly on party lines for the last three [nominations], or close to it, and that doesn’t make any sense. That suggests to me that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.” Roberts is right- in 2006, Senate Democrats attempted to block Samuel Alito’s nomination. However, the Democrats did allow the Senate to consider Alito’s nomination- now, for the first time in history, the Senate is outright refusing to consider a nominee.
Citizens voting for candidates for president or Congress choose candidates based on ideologies because candidates decide the direction the country will move forward- including which bills will be passed, how the budget is distributed, and how the country will deal with outside threats. However, Supreme Court nominations should be completely different, removed from the dirty, petty politics of Congress. These days Congress is known for party scuffles and senseless debates that stall the country and prevent easily passable bills from becoming laws. The Supreme Court doesn’t pass laws, it interprets them. Unfortunately, Congressmen do not realize that Supreme Court hearings and confirmations are not based on ideologies or party lines, but on how well the nominee can interpret the law. Political power moves have no place in the Supreme Court, whose job it is to simply apply the laws to the case at hand. It is regrettable that the Senate is blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland by refusing to even consider him. It is a direct insult to Judge Garland, the President, and Antonin Scalia’s memory. Yet again Congress is taking advantage of the checks-and-balances put in place by the founding fathers. The words of the Constitution that Justice Scalia fought for are being desecrated by the men and women who seek to replace his seat in the Supreme Court.