Monday, February 15, 2016

Even Death Is Political

This past Saturday (2/13/2016), Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at age 79 at his ranch in Texas.  

If you're not into the minutiae of American politics, you might think, "Sorry the dude's dead but what's the big deal?"  The big deal is that the Supreme Court, the judicial branch of the US government, wields considerable power. Nominations to the Supreme Court are made by the President and, if approved by Congress, appointments to the bench are for life.  

Objectively, a Supreme Court Justice should be best candidate for the job who will provide an objective and non-biased approach to the cases brought before the court. However and to the surprise of no one, this is not the case. In the case of Antonin Scalia, the court had a justice who was not shy about hewing closely to a conservative viewpoint. Many of his decisions seemed based more on ideology than Constitutional law even though Scalia was an originalist. 

An originalist is someone who says we can only go by what the founding fathers literally wrote in the US Constitution. We cannot presume rights that are not laid out in the actual Constitution. Which makes being a Supreme Court Justice a pretty cushy job. Is it in the Constitution? No? Then the answer is no. Go back to nap. 

The thing is the founding fathers of the United States were a pretty smart and insightful bunch of dudes and they provided some really strong foundations that serve our country well even today. Awesome sauce, founding fathers! 

By I can't imagine that even the smartest of the bunch could've seen the advent of interstate highways and semi-automatic weaponry and the internet and advances in modern medicine and genetics and... well, the list goes on. 

I didn't start this post to review the merits or lack thereof of Antonin Scalia's approach to the constitution. No, the thing that really motivated me to post this is what happened within a mere hour after confirmation of Scalia's death. 

From the Huffington Post: 
In a swift statement designed to warn Barack Obama against even nominating a replacement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledged to sit on his hands for the remaining 11 months of the president's term. "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," the statement read. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."

For more on this topic, click here and here

In other words, business as usual from Sen. McConnell. And make no mistake, there are a whole lot of other Republicans lining up behind him with the same message. 

Oh there is so much hypocrisy to unravel here. 

1) Since 1975, the average wait time from an opening occurring on the Supreme Court to the nominated replacement being approved has been 67 days.  

2) Current Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was nominated by Ronald Reagan in the last year of his term in office. 

3) With 8 justices on the bench, there is no tie breaker vote until a new justice is appointed to the court. Since many Supreme Court decisions have come down to 5-4 votes, the lack of a 9th justice could render the court ineffective.  

4) Just who is going to be the next President? On the GOP side, that looks like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz and nobody in the Republican party wants either of those guys to get it. That leaves a Democrat in the White House, either Hillary Clinton (liberal) or Bernie Sanders (super duper liberal) and the GOP sure as hell don't want to roll the dice on a Supreme Court Justice nomination coming from any of these people.  

It all comes down to the same damn thing it always comes down to: obstruct Obama. Remember, it was Sen. McConnell who declared right at the start of the Obama administration that his number one goal was to make sure Obama was a one term President. So here we are in the home stretch of Obama's 2nd term as President but the dream of being a cactus up this President's back side is still alive. And that dream is still driving how the government works. Or doesn't work. 

Everyone, be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You


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