Last week, I wrote my two U.S. senators, Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. James Lankford, regarding the Republican-controlled Senate’s unwillingness to hold a hearing for newly-nominated Judge Garland. Here is the response I received from Sen. Inhofe and my reply back to him. I really don’t understand how they cannot see that their rationalizations can be extended out to absurd levels. Yes, I think they are acting within their Constitutional rights, but they could technically defer their “advice and consent” indefinitely and still be within the technical bounds. It’s so frustrating to me!
Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the vacancy on the Supreme Court and the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the spot. As your representative in Washington, I appreciate hearing your concerns.
Since the devastating loss of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, much controversy has surrounded who his successor will be. On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the position. Judge Garland was an exemplary model of justice when he oversaw the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. As an Oklahoman, I am forever appreciative of Judge Garland’s actions on behalf of our state. I have spoken with Judge Garland since his nomination announcement and made it clear that this is about the process and not about him personally. It is important for the upcoming presidential election to be about citizens like you deciding the direction the Court will take.
We have seen time and again that when President Obama is unable to get his liberal agenda through Congress he has turned to executive actions and agency rulemaking to implement his priorities. These regulations and actions are now making their way through our courts, and many of them will be heard by the Supreme Court within the next year or two.
The President and Senate Democrats want the Senate to confirm someone who will uphold these executive overreaches, but the American people elected a Republican-majority Senate to oppose President Obama’s policies. With the balance of the Supreme Court now at stake, the choice to fill this vacancy will shape our nation for at least the next generation. Americans just like you are the ones who will bear the burden of these court decisions; therefore, you should have a say on who fills Justice Scalia’s vacancy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have made clear that the Senate will not hold hearings on a nomination until the next president has been elected. While the president has a Constitutional duty to nominate a justice, the Senate also has the Constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent,” and it is fully within the purview of this body to withhold that consent while completely fulfilling our Constitutional duties.
I appreciate your respect for Judge Garland.
You assert that “the American people elected a Republican-majority Senate to oppose President Obama’s policies”. I disagree and think that it is just as likely that several other factors contributed more heavily to the swing in party majority. In either case, I think we can both agree that the current Senate composition is the most recent representation of the American people.
If so, would it not be best for the Senate to hold a hearing for Judge Garland since they are the current, best representation of the American people? What if Americans elected a Republican president in November and swung the Senate back to Democrat majority (complete hypothetical; I don’t even know if the right numbers of Senators are up for re-election)? Should the now-Democratic Senate say we should wait four years until the American people have their say again? Can’t you see how this can be rationalized infinitely?
I can understand how you consider it in the purview of the Senate to withhold the consent. Please consider how that is a slippery-slope. No other Supreme Court vacancy has been handled in this way. Yes, Joe Biden made the argument many years ago for what the Republicans are doing right now, but the Democrats never followed through on that. Who is to say the precedent doesn’t get stretched further down the road? What is the cutoff for how long the Senate can wait? Can it be two years? How about three? Following the rules strictly, the Senate could wait until we had fewer than six justices (since that constitutes a quorum). You could do that, but can’t you see that it is a ridiculous notion? This current rationalization is ridiculous in the same vein.
I appreciate your response. I am a registered Republican and have only ever voted for Republican Senators in my lifetime. I value Conservative ideals, but I value common-sense much more. This behavior by Senate Republicans is complete nonsense, and I hope you can come to see that and fight for common-sense in our legislative branch. Thank you.
2 thoughts on “Nonsense Rationalizations and the U.S. Senate”
Well, you have your proof. It’s behavior pursued because they have the power to do it, not in support of a principle. The Constitution directs both the President and the Senate, saying what each “shall” do. The word “shall” in 18th Century usage is a call to action, not an ambiguity like “We’ll do it when we can manage to hammer out an agreement”. And the reply you received is what’s known as “a non-answer answer”.
I’m frustrated by their lack of action, but it would be nice if they would be honest and just admit they are getting back at Pres. Obama for bypassing them so often (though that was just because Congress was being so, um, inactive). If they actually wanted to do what the American people wanted, they would go with the recently polled 63% that want them to move forward with the nomination. 🙂
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