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Should a Supreme Court nominee be confirmed this election year?
The Supreme Court since its existence began has been involved with making decisions on controversial issues and in making those decisions the philosophy of the individuals serving has played a role. Philosophy should be a consideration when holding confirmation hearings for vacancies on the Court. The recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia has sparked a controversy as to who should nominate and individual to replace him and whether the Senate should hold hearings before a new President is inaugurated. Justice Scalia was an individual of high integrity and a firm supporter of the Constitution. Any individual who is nominated regardless of when this nomination is presented to the Senate they must be properly reviewed to determine if their positions on the issues in which they have been involved reflect constitutional values. It should not be about philosophy but honoring the Constitution and the rights we have engrained within it.
Individuals currently serving on the court and those who will be serving on the court in the future should put aside their philosophy and make decisions based on the content of the Constitution not their interpretation. Each aspect of the Constitution has a purpose and the reason for each amendment or approach to topics can be found in many if not all of the Federalists papers. If any justice on the court wishes to know the intent of the language in the Constitution involving issues before the court they only need to review the applicable federalist paper.
The process of nominating for a vacancy on the Supreme Court is a simple one at least in the beginning. The President has the right to nominate an individual to fill a vacancy on the court for any reason whether it is the result of a death as in Justice Scalia or a decision to retire. Once this is done the Senate has the responsibility to hold hearings for any nominee but the Constitution does not place a time frame for any confirmation hearings to be conducted.
The Supreme Court is an equal branch of the federal government and individuals are placed on the court for their lifetime to avoid political pressure to make decisions one way or another.
The political party in power/control of the Senate has a different approach to holding confirmation hearings when they are not in power. The current vacancy with the death of Justice Scalia has found the party not in control making statements that individuals being considered by President Obama should receive a confirmation hearing before a new President is elected. The claim is that the Senate should act on the nomination expected to be presented to the Senate but when they were in power their position was different when a Republican was in the White House.
This is an election year and with the current anger of the American people based on recent polls and election results the public is not happy with what decisions and/or actions being taken or not taken with the federal government. This involves not only Congress but the Executive Departments and their agencies. The path our country is on is not one with which the public appears to be satisfied and they have a right to impact who will be nominated to replace Justice Scalia. It is felt this decision should be by the newly elected President and the current feeling of the Senate leadership and several of the GOP candidates have clearly stated no such confirmation hearing or vote should be conducted until a new President is elected and makes that choice.
The Senate is a co-equal branch of government and has a constitutionally prescribed role in the judicial confirmation process – advice and consent. Our judicial system is a critical element in our form of government and judges are appointed for life as previously mentioned. The next Supreme Court judge which will be confirmed at some point will greatly impact the decisions to be made on sometimes controversial issues before the court. From reports the court is evenly divided between liberals and conservatives and the public has a right to be involved in who will be submitting a nomination to the court. The new justice to the court will impact decisions for years to come and if the wrong individual is placed on the court it could impact our rights as engrained in the Constitution. Currently we the people have seen a philosophy where government is not supporting the people but the people are supporting the government which is contrary to the purpose of a central government as defined by our founding fathers. We need to get back to a constitutional government and a new justice to the Supreme Court could impact whether this change will take place.
Being nominated to serve on the Supreme Court is a big deal and as such the Senate as identified in the Constitution has a responsibility to advise and consent regarding a nominee to the Supreme Court and any federal judge position. The process should not be one of a routine nature given the impact any judge can have on cases before him/her. The problem we have seen in many cases is that judges are legislating from the bench. It is important for the Senate to examine any nominee to determine if the history of decisions point to legislating from the bench or making decisions in support of the Constitution rather than their interpretation. We need a justice to replace Justice Scalia who will honor the Constitution in the decisions he or she will make regarding cases presented to the court. It is important to understand that the Supreme Court is not required to accept every case submitted to it but when conflicting decisions exist by various judges in our judicial system the Supreme Court must or should weigh in on which decision is correct.
It is unknown what will transpire regarding the cases pending before the court at this time but there should be some consideration as to what the decision would have been if Justice Scalia were still serving. There are controversial issues before the court from several reports which will impact our rights as citizens under the Constitution. From what has been reported immigration, freedom of religion and whether individuals who are not in a union should be required to pay union dues are examples of what are considered controversial issues.