What’s that I hear from Scalia’s grave? ‘Ochlocracy!’?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, South Dakota’s U.S. Senators are refusing to do their job and spinning the stunningly anti-republican (small r intended—hold that thought), extra-constitutional position that Supreme Court Justices ought to be chosen by plebiscite.
Responding immediately to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia,
For the last seven years, President Obama has attempted to circumvent Congress and the will of the American people with unconstitutional, overreaching regulations. The Senate Republican majority was elected to be a check and balance to President Obama.
The American people deserve to have their voices heard on the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice, who could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation. Since the next presidential election is already underway, the next president should make this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court [Senator John Thune, press release, 2016.03.16].
Senator Mike Rounds scuttled to the Senate floor to second Thune’s position that the Senate does its job by not doing its job:
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have argued that the American people did have a voice when they elected President Obama in 2012 – but that election was nearly 3 and a half years ago.
Since that time, a lot has changed in our country, signaling a shift in Americans’ views of our president and his philosophy of governing….
Whoever is confirmed to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court will be serving a lifetime appointment.
Keeping in mind the current political makeup of the court, the man or woman who will replace Justice Scalia has the potential to hold incredible influence over the ideological direction of the court for a generation to come.
It is critically important that the next justice is committed to upholding the principles of the Constitution.
We owe it to Justice Scalia, our judicial system and the Constitution to uphold the highest standards when determining our next Supreme Court Justice.
We also owe it to the American people to make certain their voice is heard in the upcoming elections.
For these reasons, I agree with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and in Senate Leadership that we should not hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until after our new president takes office [Senator Marion Michael Rounds, remarks prepared for delivery on Senate floor, 2016.03.16].
I’m curious: if Jay Williams beats John Thune in this year’s Senate race, will Mike Rounds declare his own term over as well?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell maintains that the Senate’s refusal to do its job is “about a principle, not a person.” Yet the remarks from Thune and Rounds make clear that refusing to consider any nominee is very much about one person: President Barack Obama. It’s about refusing to recognize the legitimate authority of the President of the United States. It’s about pretending they can declare a President’s term effectively done three and a half years after his reëlection.
Thune and Rounds aren’t calling for a strike. They are staging an impeachment without an impeachment, a mutiny, a bloodless half-coup. They declare the President has no legitimacy, but unable to install their own Pinochet right now, they pretend to make The People the new President. They red-line Article 2 Section 2 of the United States Constitution and say The People pick Supreme Court Justices in the general election.
Justice Scalia hated the democratic process. The Constitution that Scalia claimed to originalistically defend envisioned choosing judges, ambassadors, and other high officials by a most republican (small r again!) process of appointment by a President chosen by the Electoral College and advice and consent from Senators chosen by state legislators. He must spin in his warm and wormy grave at the Republicans’ feigned desire to replace that republican process with what our Founding Fathers would have called mob rule (especially if they could have seen a Trump rally).
Thune and Rounds are defending no principle. They are attacking a person. They are attacking the Presidency. In pretending the twice duly elected President has no authority to act in his last year in office, Thune and Rounds call into question their own legitimacy.