Empty Supreme Court seat must be filled

Daniel Horowitz, Staff Writer

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This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

On Feb. 13, 2016 the world received the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away. Since then, there have been nonstop arguments revolving around whether President Obama should nominate a new justice to fill Scalia’s seat or whether it should be the responsibility of the next president. Judicial nominations are a presidential responsibility — if Obama’s prerogative is to appoint someone to fill the empty seat, he should have the opportunity.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Scalia’s opinions, his time on the bench was influential to many policy issues. He was despised by liberals far and wide, yet he still left an important legacy. Since this legacy is a conservative one, Republican senators are trying to prevent Obama from putting forth a nomination because they are afraid he will appoint someone more liberal, which would tip the current ideological balance of the Supreme Court.

The Senate has the right to reject a nomination when it comes to a vote. They do not, however, get to tell Obama not to nominate a new Supreme Court justice. Article II of the Constitution gives the president the right to make appointments to the Supreme Court as long as they are ratified by the Senate. Senate Republicans hindering Obama’s search for Scalia’s replacement are inhibiting the president from performing his constitutional responsibilities.

Obama has tried compromising with Senate Republicans. He even asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, for a list of potential candidates that would satisfy the GOP leadership. McConnell was adamant that Obama should be forbidden from putting forth any nomination at all.

Conservatives argue that Obama nominating a replacement for Scalia now would be fruitless, since there will be a new president in less than a year. So for the next eleven months, the GOP is expecting the Supreme Court to hear cases with eight justices. I do not believe that asking Obama to wait for the next president to nominate a new justice would have been too much had he less time left in office, but he has almost an entire year before the end of his term.

Leaving the Supreme Court the way it is will result in several cases ending in tied decisions which will uphold the decisions of lower courts. In other words, leaving the bench with only eight justices will affect how the Supreme Court performs for the public.

This is not a call for all of the Senate Republicans to concede and let Obama appoint whoever he wants to the bench. All that is necessary is that they allow the President send a nomination to the Senate for approval if so chooses. It would also be beneficial for them to work with Obama that everyone might be able to compromise and rally around one name. If Senate Republicans like McConnell truly value Scalia’s legacy and his strict interpretation of the Constitution, they will provide Obama the opportunity to perform his constitutional obligations and deliver a nomination to the Senate floor.

Daniel is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]