Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on a visit to Texas at the age of 79. In his passing, politicians have sparked a debate as to when the next Supreme Court Justice will be appointed, and who it will be. However, the opinions are sharply divided by party and have flipped since the last nomination eight years ago, displaying the sheer hypocrisy of our politicians.
One of the biggest hypocrites is the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. An hour after Scalia’s death, McConnell stated, “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,” putting the issue on the next President on an election year.
However, the same situation had happened during the last year of Reagan’s term in 1988 for the confirmation of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although the vacancy was open since July 1987 and Reagan had put forward two other nominees, Justice Kennedy was confirmed in February 1988, a full seven months. If Obama was given that same amount of time, there would be a new justice in August 2016. McConnell is treating this nomination in a hyper partisan manner.
Republicans are not the only ones treating these Supreme Court nominations in a hyper-partisan manner. After the heir apparent to the Senate Democratic leadership Chuck Schumer came out against McConnell, critics pointed to a 2007 speech he gave concerning Justice Stevens’ retirement. Now dubbed the “Schumer Standard,” he said, “we should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” and not give then-President Bush a Supreme Court nomination in his last year.
In fact, even then-Senator Obama tried to block a Republican nominee in 2006. Obama called on the Senate to “give a fair hearing and a timely vote.” However, in 2006, Obama said, “There are some people who believe that the president, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee… I disagree with this view,” showing the differences when the main party is in power and when they are not.
Such Supreme Court nominations display the true colors of politicians within both parties. Politicians, as representatives of the people, should be consistent in their views. However, leaders of both parties, including Senator Mitch McConnell and President Barack Obama haven’t had a consistent view on the nominations.