The U.S. Supreme Court remains a justice short thanks to the refusal of the Senate majority to take up the president’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the February death of Antonin Scalia.
Republicans previously said they would wait on the results of the presidential election before allowing the issue of the high-court vacancy to move forward. But now, some GOP senators openly suggest that if the party holds the upper chamber in next week’s elections, they may sit on any Supreme Court nomination from a President Hillary Clinton.
This is shortsighted on many levels.
First, Democrats would surely retaliate at some point, potentially employing the same poisonous tactic against a Republican president. On what grounds could the GOP then object?
In addition, such a move would likely be unpopular with many moderate voters — much like the government shutdowns — and exacerbate the lack of civility so common in today’s political culture.
Finally, it might be more prudent to consider nominees on a case-by-case basis rather than simply declare a blanket opposition.
In general, a president deserves wide leeway in making judicial and executive branch appointments. Nothing can compel the Senate to act, but advocating that senators simply ignore a president’s nominations is unwise.
It’s true the course of the U.S. Supreme Court is in play this election. So perhaps all this is posturing to nudge Mrs. Clinton, should she win the presidency, toward more moderate judicial appointments.
In the end, however, while GOP senators certainly have a right to oppose nominees they find objectionable, those nominees at least deserve a hearing.