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. The next Court appointment should be made by the newly-elected president. If that new president is not a member of my party, I will take the same objective non-partisan approach to that nominee as I have always done. [Emphases added.]First, there's Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin:
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson suggested on Thursday that he might feel differently about filling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's seat if a conservative president were in office.And then Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina:
Johnson appeared Thursday morning on the Janesville radio show "Morning Mess" and was asked by host Scott Thompson whether Republicans would be more likely to push for the seat vacated by Scalia's death had Mitt Romney been elected president in 2012.
"It's a different situation," Johnson said. "Generally, and this is the way it works out politically ... if a conservative president's replacing a conservative justice, there's a little more accommodation to it. But when you're talking about a conservative justice now being replaced by a liberal president, who would literally flip the court — I mean, let's face it, I don't think anybody's under any illusion, President Obama's nominee would flip the court from a 5-4 conservative to a 5-4 liberal-controlled court, and that's the concern, is that our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms, our First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty, will be threatened." [Emphasis added.]
One of the Republican Party's most candid senators, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), admitted Thursday a stark fact that the rest of his colleagues have tried their best to avoid: that their blockade of any Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama is unprecedented.Senator, I am asking you as a US Citizen and as one of your constituents, given these two statements by two of your Republican colleagues, do you still believe that what you're doing is part of an 80 year non-partisan tradition?
And he insisted that he was going to go along with it, even though he predicted it would worsen relations between the parties and the functioning of the Senate.
"We are setting a precedent here today, Republicans are, that in the last year at least of a lame duck eight-year term -- I would say it’s going to be a four-year term -- that you’re not going to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court based on what we’re doing here today," Graham said in an unusual session of the Judiciary Committee, where members debated not bills or judicial nominees, but Obama's right to carry out his constitutional powers in an election year. [Emphasis added.]
"We're headed to changing the rules, probably in a permanent fashion," he said.
Because it doesn't look that way.
The non-partisan tradition, Senator, is for you to do your job.