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From the Hill

February 19, 2016

With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, much of the political realm of America has been in turmoil. With the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatening to obstruct the Constitutional right of President Barack Obama, many in Washington and the nation are wondering who will get the nomination and when that nomination will occur.

One of the longest serving modern Supreme Court Justices, Justice Scalia’s term went from September 26th, 1986 until February 13th, 2016, when he passed. Taking over from Justice William Rehnquist through the nomination from President Ronald Reagan, Scalia made many conservative decisions on topics such as abortion, same sex marriage, and criminal law. He also recently made controversial statements relating to affirmative action. Although he had his views, he was close friends with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the liberal Justices. During their time on the Supreme Court, they traveled together and worked together, even if they were on opposing sides. They often traveled the world, including places such as India and the south of France.

Only a few hours after the passing of Justice Scalia was announced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate should not confirm a replacement for him. In a statement, McConnell said that “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.” Ignoring the insensitivity of making such a statement so soon after the dedicated civil servant had died, McConnell has seemed to have forgotten the Appointments Clause of Article Two of the Constitution of the United States. Covering the powers given to the executive branch of the federal government, it states that “he (the President of the United States) shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, …shall appoint Judges of the Supreme Court.” To make it simple, it is the job of President Barack Obama to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. After he makes his nomination, the nominee will go in front of hearings by the United States Senate Judiciary Committee before being voted upon by the rest of the Senate. To be successfully approved, they need a simple majority vote. However, it would be best to receive a supermajority of 60 in favor of cloture (forcing the end of debate and bringing upon a vote). This is needed to avoid a filibuster and make the process much smoother.

Although Obama has yet to make an official announcement, some of the names that have been tossed around are Loretta Lynch (who is the current Attorney General of the United States), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Judge Sri Srinivasan from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

No matter how this process goes and what fights occur (and they will occur), we should take a note from the friendship of Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg and not allow our political differences to create personal divide. By working together with those we politically oppose, we can be stronger. As Justice Ginsburg wrote: “From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.”

Jacob Marx
Political Columnist

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