The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia created an even deeper rift between the republican and democratic parties with President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.
“I have selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency modesty, integrity, evenhandedness and excellence,” Obama said on March16.
"These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle. Judge Garland has earned a track record of building consensus as a thoughtful, fair-minded judge who follows the law. He's shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples, assemble unlikely coalitions, and persuade colleagues with wide-ranging judicial philosophies to sign on to his opinions.”
Garland was instrumental in the prosecution in the Oklahoma City bombing, and helping him get the nod from Bill Clinton for United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia.
Garland garnered 32 republicans (John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Pat Roberts were among them) to confirm his seat at theUnited States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia in 1997.
In this politically charged climate, the subject of Garland becoming U.S. Supreme Court Justice is a hot-button topic. The GOP promised they would block the nomination to stall the process until the general elections held in November. They reasoned that the people should have a voice and the pending Justice could alter conservative policies like banning abortion, gun rights, and enforcing the United States Constitution.
GOP presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (TX.) Tweeted after Scalia died in February.
“Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next president names his replacement. “We're not going to give up the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans,” he said.
Democrat and Minority Leader Harry Reid dismissed the idea:
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
The National Religious Broadcasters released a statement regarding finding a justice who could enforce the Constitution. Dr. Jerry A. Johnson is the CEO and President of NRB. He wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)) urging the party to blocking the nomination to protect rights of the people until the new president is elected.
“The Constitution that Justice Scalia fought for decades to uphold provides the President the power to nominate judges and the Senate the power of advice and consent,” he wrote. “This is a key principle in the separation of powers between the branches of our nation’s government. Unfortunately, America’s current President has shown little restraint in asserting authority in areas properly belonging to other federal branches, the states, or the people themselves. I urge you to do all that you can to prevent the President from attempting to work around the will of the Legislative Branch in this matter.”
Johnson also noted that people started to vote to change in 2014 since the current government was overstepping and trampling the rights of the Constitution. The three branches of government are at stake.
McConnell took this a step further with National Rifle Association, stating that the organization should have a say in the nomination through their vote. The “Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and appointed with the advice and consent of the National Rifle Association,” he said in an interview with Chris Wallace.
“I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.” Garland worked against the NRA as they wanted to dismantle background checks in the NRA v. Reno in 2000 when people purchased guns legally.
So it is not the people, who have the right to vote, but the figure heads like the NRA, the White House and the elite in Washington? Who will finally be the voice of the American people, and allow them to speak?