When the Republican-dominated House of Representatives vowed to force the country’s government into a state of Default on its debts, the catastrophic economic repercussions of what they were about to do were communicated to them and forced them to back off. But that experience should have taught us that this group of nihilistic, anti-government thugs that calls itself the Republican Party has no interest in participating within the confines of the American system of government as it is historically understood. The GOP is no longer a political party in practice, but a tool for the willful dismantling of the American system, and damn the consequences to the American population.
That the U.S. media appear to be shrugging their shoulders and attributing to mere “partisan politics” the GOP’s unanimous rebuke to the President’s Constitutional obligation to nominate a Supreme Court Justice for this sudden vacancy on the Court speaks volumes about the folly of expecting them to fulfill any meaningful role in preserving this country. What the Republicans are doing is not only unprecedented and outrageous but extremely dangerous as well. The duty to consider and confirm such nominees is not some optional purview on the part of the United States Senate and its majority leader, Mitch McConnell. It is a sacred obligation, one that serves to delineate and define the relationship between our three branches of government.
The Constitution does not say that presidents may nominate justices. It says they shall do so.
The Constitution does not say that presidents are limited in this duty by the timing when a vacancy occurs. There is no footnote that says presidents shall only perform their duties in their first terms. Nor is there a footnote that says members of the Senate shall only provide appropriate advice and consent when a president is in his or her first term. And there is certainly no language that suggests that a president’s nominee to the Court must parallel the ideology of the justice he or she would replace.
The existence of an 8-person Supreme Court is not only in derogation of U.S. Law in place since 1869. It is also extremely bad for the country in that it encourages deadlock and consequent failure to resolve issues presented by the Federal Courts of Appeals. The structure of the Federal Court system is best served—and therefore best serves the American people—when the ultimate Court of resolution is comprised of a group that is capable of forming a majority. Otherwise, on issues of the law critical to the country, we are left with a patchwork of rulings and half-resolutions depending on the vagaries of the 13 disparate Circuit Courts of Appeal. By their very nature in having reached the level of the Supreme Court these are the legal issues deemed critical to the functioning of the country as a going concern. They are legal issues absolutely essential to resolve business disputes, to navigate the interface between business and government, to establish the individual rights of American citizens and their relationship to their government, to business, and to each other. In other words, they are the issues that define the country itself. A political Party that is willing to allow the Supreme Court to more or less dissolve simply to impose its partisan ideology is not worthy of existing in the American system of government, because it is spreading something poisonous, even cancerous, into the country’s very bloodstream.
Yet Republican senators responded to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by proposing to shred not just the Constitution but precedents that date from the earliest years of the American experiment. Within hours of the announcement of the conservative jurist’s death on Saturday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declared that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
This is not some “theoretical” concern. A group of people who show such contempt and disregard to the basic structure of our governmental system and its separation of powers forfeits its right to speak for or represent the public interest on anything. As in sports, rules must be followed. If they are not, then one of the teams must be removed from the game. Otherwise the process is compromised and worthless. Otherwise we are consigned to live in a society ruled by the arbitrary whim and decree of whoever happens to be in power. And it is telling, that to a man, every single one of that same parties’ nominees to the office of the Presidency echoed this blithe contempt for a Constitutional mandate:
All the Republicans joined in this egregious assault on the basic premises of the Constitution and on the system of functional governance that is supposed to extend from it.
That is the path to dictatorship and fascism. The Republican Party and its ignorant base voters may not care to recognize that fact, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us must passively stand by and watch it happen. This has been the pattern of the GOP since this President was elected, and now it has the potential of doing real damage to the Republic. By selectively abandoning its responsibility as a participant in the process of governing the Republican Senate not only undermines and degrades the Constitution, but threatens the country’s future.
The only word for that is Un-American.