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jca's avatar

Do you find it illogical that Republicans are saying that nomination of a new Supreme Court justice should wait until we have a new president?

Asked by jca (36043points) February 14th, 2016

As you have probably heard, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died yesterday. Obama made a speech last night at about 8:45 pm, EST, and he mentioned that he will fulfill his constitutional duty and nominate a new Justice.

I saw a clip of the Republican debate where Trump said the Republicans should stall this, so that the nomination gets put off until we have a new President. All over the news, they’re saying this is going to be a big fight, is very important, etc.

A new President is almost a year away. Yes, one will be elected in November, but won’t start until January 2017, almost a year away.

The President is obligated to nominate a new Justice. It’s his job.

Is this illogical? Shameless? Brave? Politics as usual?

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33 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

No, the republicans are reacting true to form.

It is another example of their delegitimization of Obama. They have tried to belittle him for eight years – this is just the latest instance of them saying that he has no power as president.

Yes, this is politics as usual, but is even worse than usual.

At one level this is treason, at another level sedition.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s outrageous. McConnell et al are saying that the American people should be given a voice in the selection of a new justice. The American people, for a very good reason, have only the most indirect say in the process. This rankles many conservatives, who often deride SCOTUS decisions they don’t like as the work of “unelected” judges, as if we should be mad that we don’t get to tell the justices how we want them to rule. Needless to say, any move to further politicize the Court would be a disaster.

Instead, the public only gets to choose a president in whose judgment to choose a justice they have confidence. We did that in 2012. We elected a president to a four-year term at that time, not a three year term. This is an effort to undermine the voice of the people under the guise of honoring it.

Jak's avatar

Watching the ads, the debates, and the news reports of their actions,I find Republicans in general to be pains me to admit then I used to be a conservative.from having been 1 to the liberal that I am now has been a slow unfolding and awakening. I can clearly remember refusing to admit things that I knew were true simply becausethey didn’t fit the world that I wanted to live in. now I can’t say that because of this all other Republicans / conservatives are liars and delusional pretenders. maybe that was just me. looking back, I feel like I’ve awakened from a deep I do not try to ascribe motivation to anyone but I do feel that logic does not enter into most of what they spout publicly

Pachy's avatar

It’s called G.O.P. S.O.P. and it sickens me almost worse than anything Trump and the other Republican candidates have said. Woe awaits all of us if one of those guys is elected POTUS and manages to push one of their own onto SCOTUS.

marinelife's avatar

Typical Republican chutzpah! They never run out of nerve to try anything!

kritiper's avatar

The Republics don’t want another Supreme Court judge to be picked by a Democrat and must be confident, and/or willing to take the risk, that the next president will be a Republican. But the wheels of justice must keep turning, so Obama needs to make a selection and start the process of replacement.

filmfann's avatar

I find all of this just amazing.
The Republicans are threatening to delay any nominee from taking a seat in the Supreme Court until after the election, and the new President takes office. Can you imagine how fractured it will be? Hillary, Bernie, The Donald, and Cruz are all much more divisive than Obama.
If they were in office, they would demand the President be allowed to nominate whoever the fuck they wanted.
I love this kind of confrontation. It’s entertaining politics, and it shows the true character of those involved.

gorillapaws's avatar

It’s not illogical at all. The Republican position has been open and transparent since the day Obama was inaugurated: delay, and obstruct. If Obama takes a position, take the opposite. They make it so difficult to get anything accomplished that the fallout mostly comes down on Obama.

The strategy makes perfect sense. Republicans got annihilated in the 2008 elections, and they will continue to get clobbered whenever voter turnout is high. Therefore the best strategy for Republicans is to foster as much apathy for the political process as possible. Nothing builds apathy faster than filibusters and obstruction.

Zaku's avatar

Is this illogical? Depends on what you mean.

Shameless? Yes.

Brave? No.

Politics as usual? As usual for obstructionist fucktard neo-Republicans, yes.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s a shame that the SCOTUS has become politicized but it has. There is little chance that an Obama appointee will be impartial. When Sotomayor was nominated, she said “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Being a woman, Hispanic nor her life experiences should have any impact on her decisions on the law. Congress makes the laws and the SCOTUS merely rules on it. They should not be in the business of deciding whether it is good or bad law, only whether it’s constitutional.

Right or wrong, most Republicans have no confidence that an Obama appointee would be impartial. By stating that they should block any nomination they are setting a bad precedent. I understand the concern but it shouldn’t be happening this way. I’m torn between believing an Obama appointee would be a bad choice and believing that the process should run it’s course. No good options but I mourn for Scalia.

Jeruba's avatar

President Obama has nearly a full year remaining in office, nearly a quarter of one full four-year term. Why on earth shouldn’t he fulfill the duties and exercise the prerogatives of his office? And why should any cases before the Supreme Court wait until the long election and appointment processes play out?

People who think voters should have a say in Supreme Court selection don’t have the faintest grasp of what the Constitutional principle of “separation of powers” means.

ragingloli's avatar

Be honest for once. Republicans do not want an impartial judge. They want a right wing judge.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jaxk “There is little chance that an Obama appointee will be impartial.”

There is 100% chance that an Obama appointee would be no more impartial than Scalia was.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’m glad this was a question, because what the Republicans are doing just makes me sad. To kind of reiterate what many people have said… The 2012 votes still have a year’s worth of Obama presidency left, and McConnell trying to pretend they don’t seems to undercut our voices as Americans a lot more than a President we elected doing the job we elected him to do.

And let’s not forget, the Senate still has to vote the nominee in, and the Republicans have majority of the Senate… if Obama really offers such a “partial” nominee, all they have to do is vote the nominee out. I suspect the actual problem is that Obama will pick an appropriate candidate—because that’s the kind of President he is, despite the Republican rhetoric—and they won’t have political grounds for rejecting the nominee without looking bad right before a national election.

Additional Thought: A diverse Supreme Court seems important. Yes, the Judges’ job is to interpret the Constitution as fairly as they can… but interpretation naturally relies on the interpreter’s past experiences, because experiences inform our perspectives in necessary ways (I will treat a brown recluse spider much differently than I will a daddy longlegs since I know one could kill me and the other is entirely benign). We want to make sure the people we appoint to the Supreme Court can balance their own experiences with the experiences of others, with the facts relevant to each case, and with the sentiments of the Constitution. In other words, we want to make sure a Supreme Court Judge’s experiences will help inform them, but not overshadow other factors—but we don’t want to ignore those experiences, trying to pretend they aren’t there, because they are. We just want to make sure the people we appoint will adjust their perspectives as demanded by their role. Further, I don’t think we can act like the Constitution exists separate from the lived experiences of the people it represents: it is, after all, for We the People. Wouldn’t we want a Supreme Court with as many diverse experiences informing their collective vote as possible, to better represent our diverse nation?

Jeruba's avatar

@DancingMind, I’d like to read everything you wrote, but that much text in tiny print is too hard for my old eyes.

Jaxk's avatar

@ragingloli – I’m a Republican and I’d like an impartial Judge.

@DancingMind – Interpretation should be based on legal interpretation not gender or ethnic interpretation. The law should be objective not subjective. Empathy for gender or minority issues should be handled in the legislature not the courts. We’re governed by laws not feelings.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—Sure, Supreme Court decisions should be based on legal interpretation. I was just trying to argue two things from the generally accepted thesis that everyone has some sort of bias: first, that we should address it directly (and not say they don’t); second, the fact that the Supreme Court votes are never consensus—and these judges are the presiding experts of the Constitution—indicates that either there isn’t some absolute “objective” interpretation, or else we’ve never appointed nine justices who all “see” it… But talking in ways of “objective” and “subjective” as if we can separate out who “sees” it from who doesn’t seems dangerous to me, especially when the justices, behind their remarkable intelligence and legal study, are as human as the rest of us. And given how Supreme Court decisions have changed over time (especially with respect to gender and racial issues,) I don’t think we can say the Constitution’s legality is acting in a vacuum.

Here is an excerpt from the article in which Sotomayor made that exact statement (although I guess she has repeated the sentiment on other occasions.) source: New York Times reprinting of the lecture.

That one statement does seem odd out of context, but within the larger speech the “better” judgment to which she refers seems to specifically regard issues of racial and gender prejudice. At least to me, it seems like she is mostly trying to highlight the fact that she will have a different bias from other judges, but that this bias is not necessarily a bad thing, and that she will strive like the rest of them to see others’ perspectives. I don’t think that sentiment is so controversial.

Sorry it makes this post so long, but I was hesitant to cut up the paragraphs too much. So instead, I bolded parts I thought were most salient. I also italicized the specific quote.

“In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

“Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

“However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

” . . . Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.

Jaxk's avatar

@DancingMind – I understand the point but still disagree. Impartial and unbiased Jurors should be the goal, rather than opposing biases. That’s how we got to where we are. Each side looking for bias to oppose those already in place. I understand that nobody will ever be completely unbiased but that should be the goal. When I read Sotomayor’s speech I hear her saying that her bias is better than that of others. That her bias is needed to counteract that of others. Every time we appoint a new Judge they are more biased than the last just to counteract the others. The court gets more and more split. The Republicans don’t want an Obama appointee because they fear the Judge will be unashamedly biased to his agenda. Obama doesn’t want to leave it to the next President because he fears that a Republican appointee will be unashamedly against his agenda. I would like to hear the appointee at least say that they will try to be unbiased instead of merely biased towards the other side.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—I understand your point too, and I agree: “The Republicans don’t want an Obama appointee because they fear the Judge will be unashamedly biased to his agenda. Obama doesn’t want to leave it to the next President because he fears that a Republican appointee will be unashamedly against his agenda.” ... we’ve got a mess of political division. I admit, I have more faith that Obama will pick a more impartial justice than any Republican candidate, so I’m glad Obama has the law on his side. Perhaps that’s because I’m more liberal, though, so I tend view liberal stances as more “neutral” than conservative? So maybe that’s just my bias showing

mazingerz88's avatar

Illogical? No because it’s the Republicans after all.

Jaxk's avatar

Actually Obama does not have the law on his side. He can appoint anyone he wants and the Senate can deny or even with hold any vote. Both are legal. And just for the record, SCOTUS does not stop just because they are short one jurist.

johnpowell's avatar

Obama has the law on his side because he can nominate whoever the fuck he wants. If they are approved is a different story. Both sides will legally be in the right.

But Democrats have nothing to lose if the right spends a year blocking. Democrats have everything to gain so think very carefully about how your team plays this. And don’t claim independent free-thinker. Everyone knows that is bullshit.

ragingloli's avatar

I’m a Republican and I’d like an impartial Judge.
Nice joke.

JLeslie's avatar

Tough s%#t! They got unlucky and a very conservative justice past away suddenly. Obama is our President, elected in our democracy, and he gets to choose a candidate to replace Scalia. He has almost a year left, I find it ridiculous to suggest we leave the court without a 9th Justice for a year or more. More ridiculous to suggest Obama should simply agree to not do anything so the next elected President can. The Republicans are trying to shame him into it? Is that it? Like it will show integrity to leave it up to the next President, because he/she will be the current will of the country? Spare me.

Jaxk's avatar

Wow, nobody’s been nominated and nobody’s been blocked. Yet. The rhetoric is certainly heating up though. This should be good. I won’t say it’s politics as usual, more like politics on steroids.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: It’s not rhetoric. Obama said he’s going to be making a nomination and various Republicans are saying that it should be blocked or not made at all by Obama, so it’s not just us speculating.

Jaxk's avatar

Yes this will be the wedge issue for the next election. One side screaming “obstructionism’ the other screaming ‘stacking the court’. Those are the nice things we’ll say. Let the games begin.

Jeruba's avatar

@Jaxk: And just for the record, SCOTUS does not stop just because they are short one jurist.

You’re right about that. Thank you for the correction.

filmfann's avatar

@Jaxk I agree that any court opinion should be, as Justice Roberts said, calling balls and strikes. I would love a court nominee without an agenda or political leaning. That is a rarity, and certainly wouldn’t describe Scalia himself.

thorninmud's avatar

If the Democratic candidate gets elected in November, can we look forward to a chorus of Republican support for whomever she nominates to the Court, since the people will have had their say?

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