I had intended this week to move on from Justice Scalia and discuss other pressing matters. However, conservative ignorance won’t allow me to do so.
I’ve had countless friends, colleagues and strangers tell me I’m an idiot, that I should let the country decide the next Supreme Court Justice. As I touched on last week, the Framers purposefully excluded the Supreme Court from elections and typical politics. Why? So the decisions they make could be based on logic and reason, not political mood.
In an op-ed this week in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes:
What to do? The closest you can come to public peace in resolving the question of Scalia’s replacement is to take a step wholly unusual, even unprecedented, and let the American people make the decision themselves, this year, with their 2016 presidential vote.
Ms. Noonan should brush up on her Constitutional history. There is no precedent, in law or in practice, where a sitting president waits to nominate a Supreme Court Justice because there is an election coming up. In fact, doing so would not only go against what the Founders intended but also go against Justice Scalia’s deeply held infatuation with Constitutional Originalism.
The people have, in fact, already spoken. Twice. In 2008 and in 2012. This country elected President Obama on two separate occasions knowing full well that a vacancy might occur on the bench. A vacancy has come and it is the duty of President Obama to fill that seat. Just because the people have spoken and you think the people are idiots does not mean the Constitutional duties of the sitting president should be abandoned.
Ms. Noonan continues: “There is something increasingly unappeasable in the left. This is something conservatives and others have come to fear, that progressives now accept no limits.”
It would not be possible for me to disagree with Ms. Noonan more on this point. In fact, I would say precisely the same about conservatives. You see, conservatives are the ones saying compromise is “Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” That’s not compromise; that’s bullying. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump is doing so well.
Progressives are more than willing to compromise. Frankly, maybe too much. That’s why the ACA is watered down. That’s why Dodd-Frank was so ineffective. Maybe if Democrats took a page from the GOP playbook and started bullying then we might have some better reforms. Be careful, though, my GOP comrades, as progressive ideas are much more accepted and bullying won’t look so bad when you’re actually doing what’s in the best interest of the country.
Back to my original point: the Court needs imbalance. Both literally and politically. It needs Justices of opposing viewpoints. But it also must have nine Justices on the bench. It’s what the Constitution demands and what the country needs. Not acting to replace the seat or disallowing the seat to be filled would be a gross violation of an elected official’s duty.