In Wake Of Justice Scalia's Death, Senate Forgets How To Constitution

The US was rocked this weekend by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. For decades, Scalia has been a legal thorn in the side of women and racial and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people and…well, really anyone other than white dudes with money. Scalia was known as a strict constitutional originalist, writing opinions such as DC v Heller, where he upheld the contention that everyone deserves to arm themselves to the teeth at all times. He also supported the majority opinion on Citizens United v FEC,  which determined that corporate donations to political campaigns are valid because people deserve to have unfettered speech and corporations are people. He was probably rehearsing in the mirror for the day he got to decide that corporations were entitled arm themselves to teeth, thus bringing his brand of legal activism full circle and ensuring we all get shot, not just in Wal-Mart, but also by Wal-Mart. Scalia was also known for hating abortion an awful lot, and being certain that any sex that isn’t between two cis-het people was a sure sign of the apocalypse.

Scalia’s death leaves a vacancy in the Supreme Court, and apparently also a vacancy in the GOP’s understanding of presidential powers. Before the Justice’s body was even cold, senators such as Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell were issuing press releases urging the President not to appoint a new Justice. I guess they missed the part in seventh grade US History where the teacher discussed Article Two of the Constitution, which says of the President:

"...he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law…"

There is nothing in the Constitution allowing the Senate to withhold consent on the grounds of the President only having 11 months left in office, or a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who is running for President and wants to do the appointing (ahem/TedCruz/ahem), or the President being Black. In fact, the only grounds for withholding consent should be incompetence of the nominee (see also: Robert Bork).

Sadly, the leading Constitutional scholar among conservatives is now pushing up the daisies. But we do have other experts in the Constitution on the US payroll. One is sitting in the Oval Office right now, getting ready to nominate a new Justice to the Supreme Court. As is his right and responsibility.

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