The Supreme Court is the highest court in America, and its nine justices have the job of settling all the disputes that the lower courts cannot. In a court that is often divided, having one extra opinion can make all the difference. One person can be responsible for hugely significant changes in the law and very often, in the last 30 years, that person was justice Antonin Scalia who passed away about two weeks ago. His vote was the reason America can no longer regulate campaign finance spending it was also the reason that minority-voting rights are vulnerable AND the reason George W. Bush became president. On the other hand, his votes also prevented the government from conducting invasive home searches and censoring violent video games. So if you want to play and/or commit Grand Theft Auto, you can thank Justice Scalia for that (because he also wrote the opinion that established the right for individuals to carry hand guns).
The point is, this is a very, VERY powerful position and now as a result of Scalia’s death, there is an opening. And as vague as the constitution is on so many things, it is crystal clear on what’s supposed to happen next. Article two, section two states that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of Senate, shall appoint… judges of the Supreme Court.” In other words, the President has to nominate a Justice, and the Senate has to consider approving him or her. So, President Obama has said that he will nominate someone as fast as he can. The only thing is there’s now a senate-sized speed bump as the senate republicans have vowed to block any nomination put forward by the Obama administration.
Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell is one of the many who have sworn to object any Obama nomination stating, “It is today that the American people are best positioned to make this important decision.” Last week, President Obama argued that he is, “amused to hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution suddenly reading into it. A whole series of provision that are not there.” What’s funny is that not that long ago, when there was a republican president making judicial nominations, these same people were singing a different tune. In May of 2005, McConnell argued that, “Article 2 section 2 clearly provides the President and the President alone to nominate judges.” Showing that this is NOT about the constitution but rather just about getting what is wanted for a particular party.