Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supreme Court Nomination

There has been a plethora of remarks, opinions and analysis about the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. What were his contributions and legacy? What does it mean in the short term for cases in front of the court? What does it mean in the long term for the court's direction? I don't pretend to know the answers to those questions. 

I do have an opinion on one of the hottest points on the table. That is, should President Obama nominate a replacement to fill Scalia's seat on the court. My opinion is a resounding YES. 

The Republicans in almost a 100% united stance say no, Obama should wait so that the next president can nominate his choice. Of course, the GOP hopes that the next president will be a member of their party and will appoint someone who lines up with their agenda. At the same time, several of the Republican candidates for president stated that if they were in Obama's position, they would send a nominee to the Senate for confirmation. Is this hypocritical? Of course it is. Unfortunate, but that is politics, especially in recent times.

Here is my thinking. In 2012, the nation elected Barack Obama to a four-year term which started on January 21, 2013 and runs until January 20, 2017. That is a full 48 months. So far he has served a little less than 37 months. According to my math, that leaves 11+ months on his term. That's about 23% remaining. So, did we elect Obama, or any other president, to only serve 37 months or 77% of their term? 

Does the same apply to Congress? If so, House members must stop voting after about 18½ months from the start of each session. Senators can quit after about 55½ months of their 72-month terms. I realize that technically our Congress already works at a much less than 77% effort. In fact, I would put it at much closer to 0%.

Republicans are throwing the term "lame duck" around. As usual, they have misappropriated a term to fit their needs. Obama is not a lame duck yet and neither are the members of Congress whose terms end in January 2017.

Definition of lame duck : an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor

I realize that anyone who Obama nominates for the Supreme Court will face an uphill battle being confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate. Still, he has to try. He has to keep doing his job until his replacement is sworn in. 

Our world, country and lives go on 24 hours a day, 365 days (366 in 2016) a year. We can't shut down our government every fourth year because we are electing a president or every other year because we are electing all 435 House members and ⅓ of the Senators.

I can guarantee that if a Republican was in the White House, everyone in the GOP would be urging him or her to quickly nominate someone. What happens if a Democrat again wins the presidency this year? Do we then have to wait four more years before we replace Justice Scalia?

Let's get the Supreme Court back to full strength as soon as possible. Let's expect our government to do their jobs 100% of the time, not just 77%.


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