By Barbra Streisand – Featured in The Huffington Post.
Our Republic is based on a system of checks and balances. To the chagrin of political parties and to the benefit of all, we escape autocracy through our Constitution and its prescribed democratic process.
So why won’t the Republican Senators do their job as enshrined in the Constitution, and fill the seat on the Supreme Court? Six justices in the 20th Century were confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. The most recent was Justice Kennedy, who still sits on the Court. In fact, to quote President Reagan on his nominee, “The Federal judiciary is too important to be made a political football.”
There is one refrain we’ve heard ad nauseam from Senator Mitch McConnell and other Republican Senators, “The people should decide.” I have bad news for these Senators. President Obama was chosen by the people. He received 69.5 million votes in 2012. As Bloomberg News reported, Barack Obama was, “The first president in more than five decades to win at least 51 percent of the national popular vote twice.” Maybe they have blacked out the last seven years, but to quote our president’s last State of the Union, he has no more elections to run because he “won both of them.” The people have already decided.
By the GOP’s own refrain about the people deciding, every Senator up for reelection in November should recuse themselves from voting, particularly Charles Grassley, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Do Republicans own the Supreme Court? Despite the fact that Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, the Supreme Court has spent 50 years leaning to the right. Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts are the most conservative justices to have served on the Supreme Court since 1935. Since the 1960s, studies show the Supreme Court — particularly the crucial swing vote — has moved deliberately to the right.
There have been a series of critical decisions in which five GOP Justices clearly appeared to be partisan players rather than impartial judges. These include Bush v. Gore that placed George W. Bush in the White House, and Citizens United that allowed unlimited special interest money in elections.
President Obama’s nominee is a moderate jurist. Chief Justice John Roberts has praised the legal mind of the president’s nominee saying, “Any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area.” Just before President Obama’s nomination was announced, Senator Orrin Hatch told the press, “[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man… He probably won’t do that.” But President Obama did exactly that. And the GOP Senators, well they’ve done nothing. Meanwhile, both liberal and conservative justices alike have denounced the politicization of the Supreme Court nomination process. And yet Senator McConnell has had the gall to essentially say the NRA will have veto power over any Supreme Court appointment.
It is indeed staggering for Republicans to leave a vacancy on the Supreme Court for over a year. In addition to Judge Garland, there are 73 vacancies on the federal appeals and district courts. This is wildly irresponsible.
Americans are not dumb. We can see that Republicans deliberately obstruct the workings of government and then claim it doesn’t work. They slash the tires and then claim the car will not run.
The American people have done their job by voting (and I hope they will all exercise that right again this November). President Obama has done his job for more than seven years and continues to do it now with only obstruction from the GOP. (I believe history will show what a prolific presidency it was). Now it’s time for Republicans in the Senate to do their job.
Hold a vote, Mitch. Do your job. The country is waiting.