The Conservative View on Replacing Justice Scalia

Will Hamilton, Contributor

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Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, leading Republicans and Democrats were almost immediately making claims about who should succeed him.

President Obama quickly announced his intention to nominate the next Justice while on a flight to California. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) responded in a press conference saying, “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.” When asked what the impact of this controversy would have locally, Minnesota House of Representatives Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, declined to comment.

Much of what is driving this issue is the possibility of having one of the current Republican nominees  become the next President and how drastically it could change the political ideology of the next justice. With the current balance of the court being estimated to be four liberals to four conservatives the balance of power likely lies in the hands of the next Justice.

The Constitution is what should be considered in a matter such as this. As most Democrats have pointed out the Constitution gives the President the power to appoint the next Justice regardless of how much time is left in his Presidency. This is absolutely true, however, the founding fathers went further than this. The Republican argument is not that the Constitution says they cannot approve the nominee from a “lame duck” President, but rather that they have been given the right, via the Constitution, to wait.

This is most often accomplished through the filibuster. Most Democrats would complain quite a lot if any of the Republicans were to do this in order to block a vote from happening. However, when you consider that most Senate Democrats including then Senators Obama and Hillary Clinton voted against John Roberts for ideological reasons and those two would go on to lead a filibuster of their own to attempt to block a vote on the appointment of Samuel Alito, it seems more than a little hypocritical. It is also worth noting that this attempted blocking of a vote on Alito happened with Bush’s Presidency having nearly two more years left on it then than President Obama’s does now.

President Obama has already been allowed to appoint two Supreme Court Justices and with less than a year left in his Presidency and an approval rating at 39%, according to a Gallup Tracking Poll, it is clear the people need to make their voice on who they do approve of being in office heard before we get to addressing the replacement of Scalia.