Elizabeth Warren Clarifies a Senator’s Job in the Wake of Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s Death

Elizabeth Warren
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you may not have heard that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away at age 79. When stuff like this happens in government, they don’t really get the luxury of dealing with the death before they have to decide things like replacements and whatnot. After all – Supreme Court Justice is a pretty important position that can’t be left empty for too long.

However, many Republicans seem determined to force it to be left empty. Rather than have the President, you know, do his job, they’re talking about filibustering so that an appointment can’t go through, in the hopes of electing a Republican President who can appoint someone In Their Image. According to The Hill, Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz had this to say on the matter on Meet the Press:

It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year. And what this means, Chuck, is we ought to make the 2016 election a referendum on the Supreme Court.

The Senate’s duty is to advise and consent. You know what? The Senate is advising right now. We’re advising that a lame-duck president in an election year is not going to be able to tip the balance of the Supreme Court, that we’re going to have an election.

Except that this…isn’t…exactly true. In fact, the opposite is true, and we have a long history of nominating and confirming Supreme Court justices in election years, the most recent being when Republican Party darling President Ronald Reagan did it in 1987 (nominating Justice Anthony Kennedy). The Democratic-majority Senate confirmed Kennedy in a vote of 97 to zero. (Seriously, though, where did Ted Cruz get “80 years” from? It hasn’t even been twenty!)

But, as BAMF Elizabeth Warren reminds us on her Facebook page, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an election year or not. The point is, it’s the Senate’s job to put on their Grown-Up Pants and support the President in this and act in accordance with the Constitution:

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United…

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Sunday, February 14, 2016

Despite what Cruz says about “tipping the balance of the Supreme Court,” the fact is that it’s the President’s job, lame-duck or not, to nominate and appoint people to the Supreme Court. Full stop. And it’s the Senate’s duty to advise and consent, not on when to do it, but whom to appoint. (Not only that, but a President isn’t a “lame duck” until after the election in November.)


Personally, I don’t understand how someone who doesn’t understand how to do his current job expects to be elected to President of the United States, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Meanwhile, also according to The Hill, President Obama has confirmed that he will not nominate or appoint anyone until the Senate is back from its recess on February 22nd. Because, you know, doing something underhanded just to make a politically advantageous thing happen isn’t cool. He says that he will nominate someone “[In] due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.”

Let’s hope so.

(via Jezebel; image via OversightandReform/Flickr)

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