Newspaper editorial boards are overwhelmingly urging GOP Senate leadership to hold hearings and vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A vast number of the boards have called GOP pledges to block a nomination “outrageous,” “irresponsible,” obstructionism rooted in “partisan self-interest” which “deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary Branch” and “represents an act of disrespect to Justice Scalia.”
Senate Republicans Vow To Block Any Supreme Court Nominee Proposed By President Obama
NY Times: Senate Republicans: “No Confirmation Hearings, No Vote, Not Even A Courtesy Meeting With President Obama's Nominee To Replace Justice Antonin Scalia.” The New York Times reported that following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans said there “would be no confirmation hearings, no vote, not even a courtesy meeting with President Obama's nominee to replace” Scalia:
Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday that there would be no confirmation hearings, no vote, not even a courtesy meeting with President Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, all but slamming shut any prospects for an election-year Supreme Court confirmation.
Together with a written vow from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would not hold any confirmation hearings, the pledge was the clearest statement yet from the Senate's majority party that it would do everything it can to prevent Mr. Obama from shifting the ideological balance of the nation's high court. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, urged Mr. Obama to reconsider even submitting a name.
“This nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the polls,” Mr. McConnell said. “I agree with the Judiciary Committee's recommendation that we not have hearings. In short, there will not be action taken.” [New York Times, 2/23/16]
Newspaper Editorial Boards Urge GOP Senate Leadership To Hold Hearings On Obama's Supreme Court Nominee
Washington Post: “Senators, Do Your Job And Vote On The Next Supreme Court Nominee.” The Washington Post's editorial board wrote on February 15, that “Mr. Obama should nominate the best qualified person he can find” to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court and “Then senators should insist that they be given the opportunity to do what their states elected them to do: evaluate the nominee fairly, and vote aye or nay.” The Post called Republicans' pledge not to vote on Obama's nominee an “ill-considered fiat,” and warned against a “downhill slide toward politicization of judicial nominations”:
THIS ONE shouldn't be complicated. The fourth year of President Obama's four-year term has just begun. Senators are elected to six-year terms, and all of them have at least 11 months still to serve. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has created a vacancy on the nine-member Supreme Court. The Constitution tells the president to nominate justices and senators to confirm or reject those nominees.
Yet within hours of Justice Scalia's passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had declared that the Senate will not do its job. Partisans on both sides began scouring the historical record for precedents concerning judicial nominations in the fourth year of presidential terms. That record, though scant, does not bolster Mr. McConnell's case, in our view, and it is almost beside the point. The issue is whether the Senate will continue its downhill slide toward politicization of judicial nominations or seize an opportunity to regain some respect as a deliberative, constitutional body.
Mr. McConnell's ill-considered fiat has put a spotlight on a handful of Republican senators facing tough reelection battles in purple states who, it is conjectured, may be politically harmed if they refuse to treat a court nominee with respect. We would shine the spotlight instead on freshman Republican senators, who bear no scars from past judicial fights and who in some cases ran for office on a platform of renewed fealty to the text of the Constitution. Mr. Obama should nominate the best qualified person he can find, not one chosen for maximum political advantage. Then senators should insist that they be given the opportunity to do what their states elected them to do: evaluate the nominee fairly, and vote aye or nay. [Washington Post, 2/15/16]
LA Times: “Obama Should Nominate A Successor For Scalia” And Senate Republicans Should Give Them “Fair Consideration And An Up-Or-Down Vote.” The LA Times editorial board stated on February 14 that “election-year partisanship should not prevent either the president or the Senate from doing their respective duties,” and thus “Obama should nominate a successor for Scalia who commands broad respect; Republicans in the Senate should then give him or her fair consideration and an up-or-down vote.” The Times' board called McConnell's push to block Obama's nominee “self-serving sophistry,” and said the “obstructionism being threatened by Senate Republicans is outrageous”:
Justice Antonin Scalia had been dead only a few hours when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate wouldn't act on any replacement proposed by President Obama. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
This is self-serving sophistry. The American people do have a voice in any nomination Obama makes. They “spoke” when they elected him to a second term that has 11 months remaining. His authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is no more diminished by his supposed lame-duck status than any of his other constitutional powers.
The Senate also has a constitutional duty: to consider presidential nominees expeditiously. A long vacancy is undesirable in part because a court comprised of only eight members raises the possibility of 4-4 decisions that, while they affirm a lower court's decision, don't create a national precedent.
In the meantime, election-year partisanship should not prevent either the president or the Senate from doing their respective duties. After consulting with the Senate, Obama should nominate a successor for Scalia who commands broad respect; Republicans in the Senate should then give him or her fair consideration and an up-or-down vote. [LA Times, 2/14/16]
USA Today To GOP Senators: “Fill Supreme Court Void,” “Slow-Walking A Confirmation Until 2017 Is Crass Politics.” USA Today's editorial board wrote on February 15 that the “Senate should hold timely confirmation hearings on Obama's nominee and vote to confirm that person if he or she is highly qualified and falls within the broad judicial mainstream,” and said that “slow-walking a confirmation until 2017 is crass politics that puts partisan self-interest before the effective functioning of one of the nation's most important institutions”:
This is a high-stakes fight, of course, about shifting the ideological balance on the court, and Republicans are understandably loath to let Obama replace a very conservative justice with a more liberal one who might serve for decades.
But elections have consequences, and Obama was re-elected in 2012 for four years, not three. Slow-walking a confirmation until 2017 is crass politics that puts partisan self-interest before the effective functioning of one of the nation's most important institutions.
Until Scalia's vacancy is filled, the court's typical 5-4 conservative/liberal split on many divisive cases will become a series of 4-4 stalemates that will hobble the high court and allow lower court decisions to stand.
The decision about approving the next justice shouldn't turn on which side wins in November while the high court limps along for more than a year without a tie-breaking justice. The Senate should hold timely confirmation hearings on Obama's nominee and vote to confirm that person if he or she is highly qualified and falls within the broad judicial mainstream. [USA Today, 2/15/16]
San Diego Union-Tribune: “Corrosive Calls” By GOP To Delay Obama's Nominee Are “Ludicrous” And Insulting. The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board wrote on February 14, “The president and the Senate should do their jobs: nominate and deliberate,” and said of the GOP senators pledging to block a nomination, “That anyone would advocate leadership by inaction is ludicrous”:
Corrosive calls to delay Scalia's replacement began immediately, predictably widening the country's deep partisan divide.
News of Scalia's death on the long Presidents Day weekend was just spreading and flags weren't even at half-staff when Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the next president, not the Democratic one in office for one more year, should replace Scalia.
The president and the Senate should do their jobs: nominate and deliberate.
That anyone would advocate leadership by inaction is ludicrous.
Let the president try to navigate the storm of the Senate by putting forth a nominee who might be confirmed. Let the Senate consider it in good faith. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/14/16]
La Opinión: GOP Effort To Block A Nomination “Deeply Damages The Operation Of The Judiciary Branch.” La Opinión's editorial board wrote on February 15 that the Supreme Court “seat left by Scalia must be filled,” and said, “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.” The board also wrote that this “Constitutional boycott ... deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary Branch”:
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.
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.
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. [La Opinión, 2/15/16]
Tampa Bay Times: GOP Senate Stalling An Appointment To The Supreme Court “Would Be The Wrong Approach For The Court, The Nation And Democracy.” In a February 15 editorial, the Tampa Bay Times' editorial board wrote, “To stall and wait for the next president to take office in January would be the wrong approach for the court, the nation and democracy”:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death creates a new partisan fight in Congress and raises the stakes for the presidential election. It does not change the clear intent of the Constitution. President Barack Obama has a duty to nominate Scalia's successor, and the Senate has the responsibility to decide whether to confirm that nomination. To stall and wait for the next president to take office in January would be the wrong approach for the court, the nation and democracy.
Presidents maintain the full authority of the office throughout their terms. There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents presidents from nominating justices or declaring war or issuing executive orders in an election year. There is no common practice for delaying action on Supreme Court vacancies in election years. Supreme Court vacancies have occurred in an election year just twice in the last 80 years, and both times the president nominated someone to fill the vacancy. [Tampa Bay Times, 2/15/16]
Miami Herald: GOP Senate Refusal To Consider An Obama Nomination Displays “Contempt” For The Nation And “Disrespect To Justice Scalia.” The editorial board of the Miami Herald argued on February 16 that “Mr. McConnell's rush to deny the president's right to nominate a replacement is obstructionist, and said, ”the Senate's failure to act [on a nomination] would not only display contempt for President Obama, but also for the nation." The board also explained that, “There is ample precedent for approving a new justice in the last year of a presidency”:
Hardly had the stunning news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death become public before Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, unilaterally declared that his replacement should be nominated by President Obama's successor.
Mr. McConnell's rush to deny the president's right to nominate a replacement gives the lie to his claim that Republicans are not obstructionists, that they can manage the Senate responsibly. Without considering a replacement this year, political objection becomes pure obstructionism. It also obstructs the work of the Supreme Court, which can be expected to produce 4-4 tie votes in the absence of a ninth justice, probably for two terms if no one is approved this year. How is this good for the country?
There is ample precedent for approving a new justice in the last year of a presidency. It happened in 1988 with the nomination of Justice Anthony Kennedy by Ronald Reagan. But there is no precedent for the Senate forfeiting its duty. The Senate's failure to act would not only display contempt for President Obama, but also for the nation. [Miami Herald, 2/16/16]
Chicago Sun-Times: “Of Course” The Senate Should “Hold Confirmation Hearings To Consider Anybody” Nominated By Obama, “That Is Their Job.” The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board wrote on February 16 that “of course” the Senate should “hold confirmation hearings to consider anybody -- anybody at all -- nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia”:
Republicans in the Senate could use a few more voices of reason. We're looking at you, Sen. Kirk.
For four days now, Mark Kirk, the junior senator from Illinois, has declined to answer a simple question: Should the Senate hold confirmation hearings to consider anybody -- anybody at all -- nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia?
The simple answer is yes. Of course the Senate should. That is their job: To “advise and consent.” Nowhere in the Constitution does it say “hold your breath and hope to die.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/16/16]
Seattle Times: “When Obama Delivers His Nominee To The Senate, That Chamber Should Do Its Job” To Confirm Scalia's Replacement. The Seattle Times editorial board wrote on February 16 that the “U.S. Senate needs to do its job on Supreme Court nomination,” and “should honor the legacy of Antonin Scalia by doing its Constitutional duty to confirm his replacement.” [Seattle Times, 2/16/16]
Philadelphia Inquirer: The Supreme Court And Country “Can't Afford” To Not To Vote On Obama's Nomination For A Supreme Court Replacement. The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board stated on February 16 that “leaving the choice for the next president would leave a vacancy for at least a year” on the Supreme Court and said, “the court, and the country, can't afford that.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/16/16]
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: McConnell's Push For The President To “Cede His Nominating Authority To His Successor” Is “Not Just Unrealistic, It's Irresponsible.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial board wrote on February 14 that it's “unrealistic” and “irresponsible” for “Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, [to] want the president to await the results of the November presidential elections and cede his nominating authority to his successor.” The board added, “The nation cannot afford to have Scalia's seat go unfilled until the next president is inaugurated a year from now”:
Scalia's death should neither be cause for rejoicing among liberals nor undue angst among conservatives. Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, want the president to await the results of the November presidential elections and cede his nominating authority to his successor. That notion is not just unrealistic, it's irresponsible.
The nation cannot afford to have Scalia's seat go unfilled until the next president is inaugurated a year from now, plus how many additional months that would transpire for the nominee to be vetted and confirmed. Besides, it's the sitting president's prerogative to make the nomination, and this newspaper would defend that right regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican sat in the White House. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/14/16]
Dallas Morning News: The “Only Responsible, Course Is For Senators To Hold Their Hearings” And “Cast A Vote They Can Defend” On Obama's Supreme Court Nominee. The editorial board of the Dallas Morning News wrote on February 15 that, “McConnell's promise to reject Obama's nominee sight unseen is bad politics and terrible judgement,” and pointed out that “no president of either party has sat on his responsibility and refused to nominate a successor” and “the Senate [has never] simply refused to even consider a nomination with so many months to go before the next election.” The board concluded that “the far wiser, and only responsible, course is for Senators to hold their hearings, study Obama's choice and then all members, liberal or conservative, cast a vote they can defend”:
Comes now an argument from Senate Republicans that the stakes are too high for such precedent to hold. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists President Barack Obama not nominate anyone to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. That can wait till next spring, after a new president is sworn in and has time to consider his choices.
To back up this argument, McConnell has promised to reject any nominee sight unseen. No matter who they are.
Yes, it's uncommon for vacancies to occur in an election year. But when they have, no president of either party has sat on his responsibility and refused to nominate a successor. Nor has the Senate ever simply refused to even consider a nomination with so many months to go before the next election.
The far wiser, and only responsible, course is for Senators to hold their hearings, study Obama's choice and then all members, liberal or conservative, cast a vote they can defend. [Dallas Morning News, 2/15/16]
Boston Herald: GOP Leaders' “Notion That A President Should Leave A Vacancy On The Supreme Court For A Year” Is "'Interpretive Jiggery-Pokery.'" The Boston Herald wrote on February 14 that GOP leaders' “notion that a president should leave a vacancy on the Supreme Court for a year, for no discernible reason other than partisan preference, is, to borrow a Scalia phrase, 'interpretive jiggery-pokery.'” The board concluded that “GOP leaders would be better advised to urge a nominee who can win bipartisan support”:
A jurist of such intellect and impact leaves an enormous void. But before it goes any further let us table this “debate” over whether President Obama should nominate a replacement for Scalia.
News of his death had barely penetrated the public consciousness before Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had urged the president, who has nearly a full year left to serve, not to nominate a replacement, in deference to his yet-to-be-chosen successor. We understand Republican aversion to a late-term appointment by a Democratic president, which would tip the balance of the court in favor of its liberal justices.
But the notion that a president should leave a vacancy on the Supreme Court for a year, for no discernible reason other than partisan preference, is, to borrow a Scalia phrase, “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” GOP leaders would be better advised to urge a nominee who can win bipartisan support. Scalia, after all, was one of those “consensus” nominees, confirmed in a 98-0 vote in 1986. [Boston Herald, 2/14/16]
Arizona Republic: GOP Senate Would Be “Shirking Its Responsibility Unless” It Provides “Prompt And Fair Hearing” To Obama's Nominee. The Arizona Republic's editorial board wrote on February 15 that “Obama would be derelict in his duties” if he did not nominate a successor to Scalia, and that “The Senate will be shirking its responsibility unless that nominee gets a prompt and fair hearing”:
Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of intellectual rigor and accomplishment who served his country the best way he knew how. He took his job seriously.
That's a starting point for any discussion on his replacement.
President Barack Obama would be derelict in his duties under the Constitution if he did not nominate someone to bring the U.S. Supreme Court back to its full complement of nine justices.
The Senate will be shirking its responsibility unless that nominee gets a prompt and fair hearing. [The Arizona Republic, 2/15/16]
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Blocking Election-Year Nominations “Is Not Reasonable And Is A Precedent The Senate Should Be Wary Of Setting.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune's editorial board argued that GOP Senate leaders' “suggestion that the president should refrain from filling out his duties in the last year of his term is not reasonable and is a precedent the Senate should be wary of setting”:
The sad state of polarization in this nation reached a new low when, about an hour after news of Scalia's death was out, Senate leader Mitch McConnell marked the occasion not by mourning a leader of conservative thought and the nation's longest-serving justice, not by offering condolences to his spouse of 55 years or his nine children, but by stating flatly that President Obama should refrain from even naming a nominee despite having nearly a full year left in his term.
That McConnell would attempt to block any Obama nominee should surprise no one. Last June, when Obama had a year and a half left in his term, the majority leader served notice that the Senate would not confirm any more of the president's circuit court nominees. But stating that the president should refrain from filling out his duties in the last year of his term is not reasonable and is a precedent the Senate should be wary of setting. [Star Tribune, 2/16/16]
Des Moines Register: GOP Attempt To Block Obama's Supreme Court Nomination Is “Wrong.” The Des Moines Register's editorial board wrote on February 16 that the “GOP effort to block an Obama nominee from the court” is “wrong. It's not unexpected, and it's not a surprise, but it's still wrong,” and said it's not “about letting voters have their say, or respecting past precedent, or demonstrating strict adherence to the Constitution,” but in fact “it's precisely the opposite”:
There's only one explanation for this sort of obstructionism: Politics. The president is a Democrat, and the Senate is controlled by Republicans.
Of course, that's not what Iowa's Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says. He argues that “it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court justice.”
That almost sounds reasonable until you consider the fact that “the American people” elected the current president, twice, and that they did so with the expectation that he would fulfill his constitutional duties as long as he remained in office.
The GOP effort to block an Obama nominee from the court isn't about letting voters have their say, or respecting past precedent, or demonstrating strict adherence to the Constitution. In fact, it's precisely the opposite. [Des Moines Register, 2/16/16]
Denver Post: “GOP Shouldn't Rule Out Senate Vote On Obama's Nominee To Replace Scalia.” The Denver Post's editorial board stated on February 17 that the “GOP shouldn't rule out Senate vote on Obama's nominee to replace Scalia,” writing that “of course [Obama] should nominate someone,” the Senate should hold hearings, and “if Republicans end up opposing the nominee, they should forthrightly tell Americans why that is the case”:
Many Republican senators bolted out of the blocks way too fast on whether the Senate should hold hearings on a U.S. Supreme Court nominee by President Obama in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's unexpected death.
Yes, they should hold hearings -- unless the president appears to be making a purely political statement with his appointment.
Instead, many senators ruled out even considering a nominee this close to an election.
Of course he should nominate someone. And if Republicans end up opposing the nominee, they should forthrightly tell Americans why that is the case. [Denver Post, 2/17/16]