Editorial: Seat Left by Scalia Must Be Filled

The operation of the Judiciary branch might be damaged if the Senate leaves the appointment for the next President

Republicans controlling Congress have already decided that President Barack Obama’s administration has ended even though it still has almost a year to go. In the last few weeks, they chose not to listen to the budget sent by the White House, sight unseen, the same way they decided that they will not accept a replacement for the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice, regardless of whom the President recommends.

 In the case of the budget, their political resentment is a snub to the President. In the case of the Supreme Court judge, it is a constitutional boycott that deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary branch.  

 Not only are important decisions at stake which are expected to come by June, but there are also the cases that are scheduled to be heard in their next session, beginning in October. Historians say that, if the Senate rejects to perform their duty to “advice and consent,” this will be one of the longest periods in which an incomplete Court – crammed with cases – is incapable to fulfill their job.

 Conservative concern surrounding the sudden passing of its faction’s most prominent figure in the Supreme Court is understandable. If Scalia is replaced by a centrist or liberal judge, they will lose the current 5-4 advantage they possess in the Court. That is why they want to postpone the nomination of a replacement to be made by the next president, in the hope that it will be a Republican.

 Undeniably, the Senate’s blocking announced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley is an act of political partisanship and nothing more.  As it usually happens in these cases, a legal war is being waged by looking at the past. What matters and what is undisputable is that there are numerous precedents of judge confirmations to the Supreme Court made during a president’s last year in office. Whoever says the contrary is not being truthful.

 Finally, the nomination of a judge to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court is a presidential prerogative. Obama has the right to assign a judge that shares his judicial doctrine, the same one that the People voted for in the election that took him to the White House. The irony of this world turned upside-down is that those who categorically disregard the Constitution, as in this case, are the ones accusing the President of disrespecting it.