Justice Antonin Scalia was dead for only a few hours before politicians started posturing over whether it was fair or just to allow President Obama to select his replacement on the United States Supreme Court. The usual suspects of the Republican party immediately threatened to block any nomination the President might make with rhetoric invested in their conservative values and not constitutional principles. As the New York Times reported, “With 54 seats in the Senate, Republicans have the power to block the confirmation of any nomination sent by Mr. Obama if they stick together. The U.S. Constitution aside, Senator Mitch McConnell predictably announced, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Of course, McConnell’s threat is firmly rooted in far right Republican ideology, and not upon the country’s need to have a full court in operation as quickly as possible. The politicization of court nominees by a President is nothing knew, but the stakes are so high this time, the replacement of Scalia promises to be one of the most contentious judicial battles in American history. Although a President can never know for sure how his nominee is going to vote on any particular issue, a nominee’s track record is usually indicative of how she or he is likely to vote. The court now appears to be divided evenly on conservative versus liberal issues (terms themselves that are often disingenuous). The hope of all but the most single (or few) issue minded people will go along with this political sham, but the nation will suffer as a result. Some may not like Obama’s past nominees for pure politicization purposes, but the President should not be denied his right to proceed quickly– America needs this to happen, and the language and spirit of the Constitution requires it. The actual independence of the high court is what makes this country so great.