Justice and Politics: Delay, Deny and Gridlock

The federal government has devolved into a parody of the old Buffalo Springfield song line “nobody’s right and the Republicans are wrong.” The Republicans have said they are exercising their “duty” by sitting on their hands and will not even consider a Supreme Court Justice nominee appointed by President Obama.  This attitude frustrates the administration of justice. This inaction ties up the Supreme Court for the better part of two terms following the death of Antonin Scalia. The Republicans apparently do not recall that Scalia was approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate by a 98-0 vote when he came onto the bench in 1986. He obviously got Democratic votes to become confirmed.

The Republicans have taken the position that unless a conservative is appointed the court, nobody will do. They are making this conclusion without the benefit of reviewing the qualifications of any potential nominee. They have stated that they will not even meet with any nominee and will do everything to block any consideration of a candidate. They want to have a pre-determined litmus test on various hot button issues that the court will consider. Does this not run contrary to what we want a judge to do? We want judges to act as impartial arbitrators of disputes. If judges have to give a list of how they will vote on issues, without considering the record and the evidence, how are they impartial?

Republicans decry governmental waste. Are they not encouraging waste by tying up the Supreme Court for two terms by not allowing cases to be decided if the current court splits 4 to 4? How does this serve justice and the rights of the litigants? Society has a right to have its legal controversies resolved in a reasonable amount of time. The arbitrary and purposeless delaying and gamesmanship employed by the Republicans in the name of alleging that conservatism is “SAVED” makes no sense. Don’t they have faith in the Representatives of the Senate (which they control) that they can and will fairly evaluate a candidate for the Supreme Court seat?

Former conservative Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has stated that she is in agreement with the President that the business of the Court must continue and that nine justices be able to decide issues. Justice O’Connor was approved by the Senate and received Democratic votes in her hearing. Do the leadership of the Republican party not have faith that the Senate can fulfill its obligation to vote for a new justice? What if the Republican candidate does not win the next presidential election? Faced with this, would the Republicans rather gridlock the Court and society as a whole by not allowing the Court to fully trans act its business? To have a clear record on various issues, the court needs 5 votes to resolve cases and ensure that a 4-4 split does not take place. The Republicans owe it to society to not allow this to continue.

As of February 25, 2016, rumors have been spread by the media that President Obama is considering naming Brian Sandoval, present governor of Nevada as a nominee for the Supreme Court. This would place the Republicans in an awkward position. Governor Sandoval is a Republican and is Hispanic. He is a former Federal Judge and prosecutor. He is a moderate Republican who favors gun rights, abortion rights and agreed with Obamacare. A truly mixed bag. But, isn’t this what we want in a justice? Open-minded, qualified, young (age 52) and fair?

If the Republicans do not consider the Governor, they are rejecting a member of their own party and a Hispanic. The Republicans will need the Hispanic vote in the election. To coin the Lewis Carol phrase from Alice in Wonderland, “things keep getting curiosier and curiosier”

What say you?