My two cents on the Supreme Court drama occasioned by Antonin Scalia’s passing this weekend:
1. It’s a shame that we as a country couldn’t take at least 24 hours to publicly recognize and honor a Supreme Court justice who passed away unexpectedly before jumping right into a rancorous political battle.
2. Like most people, I didn’t agree with Justice Scalia on a number of issues, but I respected him as a brilliant and sophisticated thinker who eschewed bumper sticker politics. I regularly assign some of his writings and essays to my political science students when we talk about Supreme Court issues. Of course, I also understand and sympathize with members of minority groups who are shedding few tears at his passing.
I think we need to stop pretending there are any first principles here beyond people want a SCOTUS that makes policy they agree with.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 15, 2016
4. Reasonable people can and do disagree about what is appropriate in political matters. Even most objective analysis, though, can produce little support for the rationale of many GOP senators that the Senate should filibuster any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama appoints and instead wait until after the election for the next president to nominate a replacement. One one hand, the GOP proposal is not technically illegal and it does not break any letter-of-the-law interpretation of current Senate rules. On the other hand, to delay an entire year before considering a presidential appointee to the Court is 100% without precedent in American history. The longest it has ever taken is about four months (the appointment of Louis Brandeis in the Woodrow Wilson administration). For conservatives, who claim to respect tradition, to say that a Supreme Court confirmation should take three times longer than it has ever taken in the history of the entire United States simply because it is an election year is completely outside the boundaries of “traditional” of American politics and is philosophically inconsistent at best and 100% self-serving at potentially damaging to our entire political system at worst.
How long are we as a country really going to keep playing this “Constitutional hardball” game of chicken every time a controversial issue comes up?