Reid To Senate Republicans: End The Excuses And Do Your Job With Supreme Court Nominee

“Republicans are using one cheap excuse after another to explain why they shouldn’t have to do the jobs that the taxpayers sent them to Washington to do. Instead of making excuses, wouldn’t it be easier just to do the right thing? The right thing would be to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a meeting, a hearing and a vote. “

“The Constitution reigns supreme. And in this situation, there is no question what the Constitution mandates in times of Supreme Court vacancies.”

“By denying their constitutional mandate, Republicans are refusing to do their job. Senate Republicans should give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a meeting, a hearing, and a vote. Because as Governor Christie said, there’s really no reason not to.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about the growing pressure on Senate Republicans to end their vows of obstruction and give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing. Below are his remarks:

The Republicans, in an effort to try to cloud the issue regarding selection of a Supreme Court replacement, usually don’t make a full quote. For example, they keep talking about Senator Biden, but they should give the whole statement by Senator Biden where he said, quote:

“Compromise is the responsible course both for the White House and the Senate…If the President consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.”

Yesterday, The Washington Post published an editorial by Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Virginia, and an expert on the Supreme Court.  In her editorial, Dr. Perry pushed back against Republicans’ claims that Presidents have not historically nominated Supreme Court Justices during an election year. According to Dr. Perry, “14 Presidents have appointed 21 justices during presidential election years.” Fourteen out of 44 Presidents have appointed Supreme Court Justices in an election year – that’s almost one-third of all U.S. Presidents.

Amy Howe, an expert on Supreme Court proceedings and editor at SCOTUSblog, agrees that past Presidents and Senates have considered election-year nominees. She writes, quote:

“The historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election.”

Republicans are using one cheap excuse after another to explain why they shouldn’t have to do the jobs that the taxpayers sent them to Washington to do. Instead of making excuses, wouldn’t it be easier just to do the right thing? The right thing would be to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a meeting, a hearing and a vote.

Some Republicans are already starting to see the light. Last week the Republican Senator from Maine ripped the Republican Leader for politicizing the current Supreme Court vacancy in the aftermath of Justice Scalia’s death:

“I thought it was a shame….that instead of honoring his life and legacy and extending our condolences, already we were embroiled in a political fight.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went a step further, urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings. Governor Christie said, quote:

“As I’ve always said, I believe that’s absolutely the right thing to do. People can vote up or down however they choose, but hearings should be held.

“There is no reason for them to not take on this nomination.”

The Governor is right – there is no reason for Senate Republicans not to give a nominee to the Supreme Court a meeting, a hearing, and a vote. Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, a Republican, published an editorial in The Missoulian, urging the Republican Leader to give President Obama’s nominee all due consideration. He said, and I quote:

“It is unfortunate that partisanship took over the conversation before the Justice was even laid to rest. The partisan bickering and demands to ignore the Constitution that unfolded after Scalia’s death is an affront to his legacy. Scalia dedicated his life to serving the Constitution. It is time for the Senate to honor that service and carry out their constitutionally mandated duty to advise.

“The Constitution reigns supreme…My colleagues in the Senate have an obligation to provide advice to the President on nominees.”

I agree with the Congressman from Montana – the Constitution reigns supreme. And in this situation, there is no question what the Constitution mandates in times of Supreme Court vacancies: Article II, Section 2, of our Constitution clearly outlines the President’s legal authority to nominate Justices to the Supreme Court. It also defines the Senate’s role in the nomination, which is to provide its advice and consent.

By denying their constitutional mandate, Republicans are refusing to do their job. Senate Republicans should give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a meeting, a hearing, and a vote. Because as Governor Christie said, there’s really no reason not to.