Justice vs Politics

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has conjured up a firestorm of political posturing.  I don’t even think his body had hit room temperature before Republicans were spouting off that Obama should not nominate a replacement for that seat because of the election year.  From sitting Senators to candidates for the White House, I’ve seen and read countless quotes backing that idea.  In my honest opinion, that position is preposterous, and it shows how much politics can ruin or poison anything that it touches.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics and partisan bickering.  The integrity of the court relies on that perception, and some politicians are doing everything they can to drag the reputation of the court to sub-zero levels.

With Republicans and their supporters seemingly eager to take on this election year fight, I see a few different outcomes possible with most stacked against the GOP.

#1:  Republicans win the White House and retain control of the Senate

With this outcome, the gamble pays off.  For this to happen, however, the GOP has to have a better get-out-the-vote campaign than the Democratic Party.  As we’ve seen in past presidential year elections, that has not been the norm.  The Republican candidate would have to win every red state as well as flip a few purple or blue states to get to 270 electoral votes.  In addition, the GOP has to defend twice as many seats in the Senate with at least 9 seats in battleground states.  They will have to retain those seats while also trying to continue to impede the current president from doing his duties as POTUS.

#2:  Democrats win the White House and Republicans retain control of the Senate

In this outcome, there’s nothing gained and likely some ground lost.  The battle will still remain as to who is nominated by the new president.  With a brand new Democratic president (Clinton or Sanders), there’s less likely going to be a middle-of-the-road nomination as they would get from Obama right now.  That would lead to a protracted fight to see who’s going to give first.  Using the “people voted mandate” thing, it’s likely that the president will eventually emerge as the victor.

#3:  Democrats win the White House and win control of the Senate

In this scenario, the voters get tired of the politics and get pissed off at Republicans trying to hijack the system for political gain.  Having to defend delaying a nomination hurts the Republican Senators running in battleground states.  This would be a major blow to the GOP because now it’s very likely that a super, duper liberal judge gets appointed to the SCOTUS.  I see this outcome as the early favorite, not because of the voters getting pissed off, but because of the built-in advantage the Dems have with the electoral college and the number of seats the Republicans have to defend in the Senate.

Regardless to what happens, I think the American citizens end up losing.  We’re going to see confidence in the court eroded and confidence in Congress reduced even further (if that’s possible).  This should be a time where we show the rest of the world how our government and Constitution works to ensure the continuation of government.  We’re supposed to be the leaders of the free world, and we’re about to squander a golden opportunity to show true leadership.

The president is tasked by the Constitution to appoint replacements when there is a vacancy.  There is no asterisk stating that responsibility is muted because of what year it is in his term.  Obama will be the president until January 20, 2017.  If we allow the vacancy to remain until the next president is sworn in, we go two SCOTUS sessions with only 8 justices.  That would be an abdication of Constitutional duties by both, the president and the Senate.  Why anyone, especially the members of the party that is supposed to be all about the Constitution, would purposefully sabotage the workings of the Constitution is beyond me.  This is just another example of why I loathe politicians.  They have a way of screwing up anything they get involved with, and this is no exception to that.

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10 thoughts on “Justice vs Politics

  1. It’s never pretty for the public to get its face mushed up in the political sausage-making, but we’re getting it now and we’re just going to have to deal I guess. From fairly young adulthood, I never harbored any illusions about the SCOTUS being any less political than the other branches, although I got why we had to maintain some pretense to the contrary.
    There are serious risks for the GOP to take the course McConnell is steering, but short term, it makes sense since all of these Senators are vulnerable to primary-challenging. But it’s still pretty breathtaking, to experience the GOP’s announcement made quite that quickly.

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    • You’re right that it’s never pretty, but it has never been this blatantly put on display before either. I harbor no dream of the SCOTUS being a non-partisan part of government, but the current trend is going to obliterate any remaining semblance of impartiality that they have. Without that impartiality, their rulings are useless IMHO.

      As far as McConnell and the GOP, they made their bed and now they have to lie in it. This is their punishment for the crap they’ve been doing over the past 7 years to undermine Obama. To quote a radical, anti-American, former Marine preacher and mentor of the current president… “The chickens are coming home to roost!”

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  2. Personally, this doesn’t surprise me a bit. I lost all faith in Congress and it’s ability to follow the Constitution when they abdicated their responsibility to declare war and handed it to a President (W.) on a plate. Bunch of cowards if you ask me.

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  3. Democrats at at fault too. They do not go after the Republicans like the Republicans go after Obama. Some how the Ds have lost the will to fight for what they should believe in.

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