xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Edelman: Plan to confirm justice so soon after Ginsburg’s death the height of Republican hypocrisy | COMMENTARY

One of the giants of American jurisprudence passed away Friday. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her battle against pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg championed gender equality on the court; her arguments made it possible for men to receive widowers' benefits and women in the military to receive the same housing allowances as men. She fought for the rights of all Americans, irrespective of gender, age, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Ginsburg was the champion of the voiceless and underrepresented. She was as much a force in protecting a woman’s right to attend a military academy as she was in protecting a woman’s right to choose. Her strong support for equal rights made our nation a better place for all.

Advertisement

Ginsburg believed the Supreme Court worked best in an atmosphere of collegiality; she was a close friend to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, never letting their differences in interpreting of the Constitution interfere with their ability to work together.

She knew she was hovering between life and death when she reportedly told her granddaughter that her dying wish was not to be replaced before the upcoming election. Mitch McConnell’s hypocritical announcement following her death was, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Advertisement

Apart from the Court and the country losing a brilliant judicial mind, the Republican Party’s actions rip open the raw wounds to the Constitution they created in February, 2016. To refresh your memory, Scalia passed away on Feb. 13, 2016. Majority leader McConnell prevented the Senate from performing its constitutionally mandated requirement to advise and consent on Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. McConnell declared, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

A large number of Republican senators, among them Blunt, Cruz, Gardner, Graham, Grassley, Perdue, Portman, and Rubio mindlessly marched in lockstep behind him, parroting his statement. More than 8 months before the Presidential election, Gardner said, “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” If 8 months is too short a time to fill a Supreme Court seat, what is seven weeks? We’ve become conditioned to expect a certain amount of humbug in politics, but McConnell’s hypocrisy is an outrage, offending every person’s sense of fair play.

It takes time to consider a Supreme Court nominee. The average time between nomination and confirmation was 83 days for the eight current justices. The Republican Party’s great push has a dual purpose. First, they want to hide the record and judicial temperament of Trump’s nominee from the American public. A confirmation hearing, when it’s not a Kavanaugh-style shouting match or a Gorsuch-style whitewash, examines a candidate’s rulings, their writings, and their temperament — whether the nominee can reasonably be expected to be free from political influence or bias, or if there are any skeletons in their closets.

An extensive, thorough hearing results in candidates who fall short of the high standards required of a justice never being confirmed; Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to name Abe Fortas as chief justice failed for cause, as did Richard Nixon’s attempts to put ethically-challenged Clement Hainsworth and segregationist Harrold Carswell on the court. Just as Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, so must a Supreme Court nominee. Sen. McConnell’s wish to “get this done before the election” is intended to make Trump’s nominee a “stealth candidate,” and must be avoided.

Second, this is a naked attempt to politicize the court and give a boost to Trump’s sagging reelection campaign. Republicans hope to sell the president’s base on his viability by stacking the court with what passes for being a conservative nowadays.

People are fond of repeating Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote. When asked, “what do we have, a republic or a monarchy?” he replied, “a republic, if you can keep it. Our responsibility is to keep it.” The Senate’s responsibility is to act to keep our republic. Let’s hope enough Republican senators act responsibly.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement