February 26, 2016

Senator Al Franken On The Senate Floor (Sen. Toomey: DO YOUR JOB)

From a few days ago in the US Senate:

Just so you don't have to watch the full 13 or so minutes, Politicususa has some excerpts.  Here are some excerpts of their excerpts:
Less than an hour after news of Justice Scalia’s death became public, the Majority Leader announced that the Senate would not take up the business of considering a replacement until after the presidential election. Quote, “[t]he American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” he said.

The only problem with the Majority Leader’s reasoning, MR. PRESIDENT, is that the American people have spoken. Twice. President Barack Obama was elected and reelected by a solid majority of the American people who correctly understood that elections have consequences, not the least of which is that when a vacancy occurs, the President of United States has the constitutional responsibility to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. The Constitution does not set a time limit on the President’s ability to fulfill this duty. Nor, by my reading, does the Constitution set a date after which the President is no longer able to fulfill his duties as Commander in Chief, or to exercise his authority to, say, grant pardons or make treaties. It merely states that the President shall hold office for a term of four years. And by my count, there are in the neighborhood of 11 months left.
Then he went further:
If we were to truly subscribe to the Majority Leader’s logic and extend it to the legislative branch, it would yield an absurd result. Senators would become ineffective in the last year of their term. The 28 senators who are now in the midst of their reelection campaigns and the 6 senators who are stepping down should be precluded from casting votes in committee or on the Senate floor. Ten committee chairs and 19 subcommittee chairs should pass the gavel to a colleague who is not currently running for reelection or preparing for retirement. Bill introduction, and indeed the cosponsorship of bills, should be limited to those senators who are not yet serving in the sixth year of their terms. If the Majority Leader sincerely believes that the only way to ensure that the voice of the American people is heard is to lop off the last year of an elected official’s term, I trust he will make these changes.
This is interesting to me as one of Pennsylvania's Senators, Pat Toomey, has said "no" to any nominee until after the next inauguration:
The current vacancy on the Supreme Court, following the tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia, however, presents an unusual context. In the final year of a presidency, it is common for vacancies that arise on the Supreme Court to await the outcome of the next election. Given that we are already well into the presidential election process and that the Supreme Court appointment is for a lifetime, it makes sense to give the American people a more direct say in this critical decision.
Do I need to point out that Pat Toomey is one of the 28 Al Franken mentioned as running for reelection?

By Senator McConnell's own logic, Senator Toomey should immediately relinquish his committee seats and immediately cease any of his constitutionally mandated responsibilities in the United States Senate.

But that's not Toomey's only problem.  He's been quoted as saying:
In the final year of a presidency, it is common for vacancies that arise on the Supreme Court to await the outcome of the next election.
A point that Franken addressed on the Senate floor:
But MR. PRESIDENT, suggesting that the Senate should refuse to consider a nominee during an election year stands as a cynical affront to our constitutional system—and it misrepresents our history. The Senate has a long tradition of working to confirm Supreme Court justices in election years. One need look no further than sitting Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Supreme Court nominee appointed by a Republican President and confirmed by a Democratic Senate in 1988, President Reagan’s last year in office. So when I hear one of my colleagues say that, quote “it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year,” I know that’s not true.
Senator Toomey, what you said is simply not true (and yet you said it to your constituents).

But Pat, boychik, you can clean up these problems you made for yourself easily:   

Just do your job.

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