The death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has not only led to a shake-up in the Supreme Court, but it has also created another drastic dispute between our nation’s two political parties.
When Scalia passed away on Saturday, Feb. 13, it left the Supreme Court with an empty seat. That seat needs to be filled, but the question of who will fill it has been thrown into question by the plans of the Republican Party.
Many members of the Republican Party have announced their desire to stall the process of appointing a new justice until a new president is in office. If a member of the Republican Party wins the election, the new president will likely nominate a judge that has conservative values in line with their own. At this point, the fear the Republicans have is that President Obama will nominate a liberal justice, which would shift the Supreme Court to be more of a liberal institution.
In an interview with “ABC News,” Senator Ted Cruz expressed his desire to prevent an Obama nominee from getting appointed: “This should be a decision for the people. Let the election decide it. If the Democrats want to replace the nominee, they need to win the election.”
Cruz’s statement is quite contradictory, as he said that the people should decide who the new justice will be, yet it was the people who gave Obama the power to appoint judges in 2012. What Cruz and many other Republicans are actually doing is stalling an important political process for their own selfish purposes. The majority of the Republican Party is trying to turn this issue into a chess game with the Democratic Party, but it is really a simple process.
The Supreme Court will still be able to vote on cases as long as they have six members to vote on an issue, but it is now likely that these cases could fall into a four-to-four tie between the eight members. As a result, they would either have to rely on the opinion of a lower court, or they would have to put the case on hold until a new justice is appointed. In short, the voting process on major national issues is dramatically more complicated when only eight members of the nine intended are present.
On Feb. 13, Obama discussed the importance of appointing a new justice in a press statement released after the Scalia’s death: “These are responsibilities that I take seriously. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.”
Republicans are going out of their way to fight Obama’s attempt to find Scalia’s successor and are overlooking their duty to ensure that the government functions properly. To try to disrupt the Supreme Court’s ability to enforce justice is an insult to the memory of Scalia.
You do not have to be a Republican or a Democrat to see the wrong that is impeding on the political process. The country is going through enough political turmoil at the moment, so having the Supreme Court be thrown into unrest over the petty desires of the Republican Party is frustratingly cold-hearted.
There is nothing that legally prevents Obama from appointing a new Supreme Court justice, so the members of the Republican Party behind this boycott need to get a grip and focus on actually winning the White House in November.