Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was nearly immediately politicized. President Obama has the right and duty to nominate a qualified, just person to the Supreme Court.
While the Supreme Court returned to the bench this past Monday, Scalia’s unexpected passing last week not only leaves an even number of justices, but also leaves several cases undone and up in the air.
Obama has vowed to appoint a new justice before his term ends this November, but Congress has spoken out against Obama’s decision.
Many Senators, on both sides of the aisle, have spoken out about refusing to meet with anyone the President chooses-regardless of who the nominee turns out to be.
In typical 21st century fashion, Obama tweeted a response saying, “Refusing to even consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee is unprecedented,” followed by the hashtag #DoYourJob. And President Obama is completely in the right.
The first argument against Obama choosing someone is that he will choose someone with similar political beliefs and “biases.” As the single man who can nominate a person to the highest court in America, he is not looking for political biases. He looks for someone who has proven to diligently and justly interpret the law (not make the law, as clearly drawn in the three branches of government). In his blog post, he acknowledged that everyone comes with his or her own experiences which shape the way they see things, but it all comes down to one Constitution. And anyone who gets this far has an indisputable track record of fair decisions.
The second argument is the Obama administration is a “lame duck” and has “one foot out the door.” What better way to solidify his legacy as President than to nominate a fair, qualified justice?
The Senate has vowed to refuse to even acknowledge any nominee President Obama puts forward, displaying somewhat of a temper tantrum. Senate’s duty is to vet and genuinely evaluate the President’s nomination, and make a rational decision after assessing all the information.
Tweets, blogs, and social media petitions aside, Obama could bypass the opposition in the Senate and push his nomination through while they are on a recess.
Looking ahead to the Court’s docket, there are several cases that may be greatly affected by Scalia’s passing.
The most talked about one is Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association, where the SCOTUS will decide whether all employees must pay union dues, or just those who choose to be part of the union. The case would affect millions of employees nationwide.
Two other cases, both from the fifth circuit, are also headed to court. The first will decide, “whether the Obama administration was entitled to shield more than four million undocumented immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work.” The second case would force most abortion clinics in the state to shut their doors, setting a precedent for other state’s arguments.
President Obama is facing what could be his last opportunity to leave a true impact, and he has a right and duty to at least vet and nominate a qualified justice, regardless of party lines or deadlines.