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EDITORIAL: Do your jobs
President Barack Obama has named his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The choice is one that should be a catalyst for consensus.
Garland has long been equally praised by Republicans and Democrats.
But building consensus in this contentious political climate of hardline partisan political entrenchment is the last thing that Republicans in the Senate appear to want.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his party overwhelmingly plan to deny confirmation hearings for any Supreme Court nominee put forth by Obama. Among those obstructing the process is Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, is in favor of holding hearings on Garland's nomination.
This is an unprecedented turn of events. In the six decades that the process has included Congressional nominating hearings — and a vote — there has never been such an outright dereliction of duty.
The thinking — if you call it that — is that the decision should be put on hold until the next president is sworn in. Of course, this could easily backfire on Republicans who, in Garland, are getting an incredibly tough-to-deny nominee. Garland’s credentials and reputation are above reproach and he is viewed as a centrist.
The next president may not choose a nominee more to Republicans’ taste, whatever that may be.
But of course, the name of the game isn’t serving the country by seating a full court with reputable judges to rule on matters of extreme import.
Such was not always the case. In fact, in 1988 it took the Senate (with a Democratic majority) 84 days to confirm Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“But this time, Senator McConnell wants to run out the clock until the election — ignoring historical precedent and the Senate’s constitutional duty,” Common Cause wrote. The political advocacy organization began an initiative on March 16, marking 84 days until June 8 — the date by which the Senate should accept or reject Garland’s nomination.
The initiative includes encouraging the public to use its website, Senatedoyourjob.org, to see if its state representatives plan to “do their jobs” and consider the Garland nomination. Once you have looked up your senator and their position (these are largely along party lines, though a handful of Republicans have broken ranks to say they would participate in hearings), you can contact them and implore them to do their jobs.
This is obstructionist game-playing and nothing more. Shame on these representatives who are putting their own partisan political ambitions above the good of the country.
If you believe, as we do, that it’s time for Pat Toomey and others to stop playing political games with the highest court in the land, go online and tell them it’s time to do their jobs.