After the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the common sense decision should be to have the Obama administration deal with the process of naming Scalia’s replacement.
Although it is an election year and the recent death left a rare and awkward opening, the U.S. Constitution states that there always has to be eight justices in the Supreme Court; therefore, someone needs to fill the position in a timely fashion and start the job.
The process of appointing a Supreme Court judge is extensive and time consuming. However, to wait approximately a year for the next presidency to start the process of naming the new justice is not work-efficient. Doing so will only cause chaos. However, chaos can be prevented if all political, governmental and legal groups take a step back and let the president handle the decision.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated during President Ronald Reagan’s term and retired in 2006. She mentions to CNN.com that it is rare for a Supreme Court opening to come about during an election year, and because the presidential race is in full swing, it will create “too much talk around the thing that isn’t necessary.”
O’Connor is right. Political parties are quick to release their stances on who should nominate the successor. Presidential candidates and their parties flood the news with reasons why the current administration should or should not choose the new justice.
Moreover, according to USA TODAY, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network released that they are going to start radio, television and digital advertising campaigns to urge the Senate to “block anyone President Obama nominates to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,” and are willing to spend at least $1 million doing so.
Leaving the vacancy for too long just stirs continuous uproar in politics. Under such circumstances, it is better to make the bold decision quickly, instead of dragging time trying to please all parties and organizations involved.
According to CivilRights.org, a project of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights & The Leadership Conference Education Fund, “The Judicial Nomination Process” has eight steps and is as follows:
1. “When there is an open judicial position, the president nominates someone to the position. Usually he discusses the nomination with key senators before announcing his choice.
2. The nomination is sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
3. The Judiciary Committee collects information about the nominee, including a background check by the FBI, and reviews the nominee’s record and qualifications.
4. The Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the nominee. Witnesses speak both in favor and against the nomination. Senators ask questions of the nominee.
5. The Judiciary Committee votes on the nomination, and then makes a recommendation to the full Senate, that the nominee either be confirmed, rejected, or that they do not have a recommendation. Sometimes they decline to send a nominee to the Senate at all.
6. The full Senate debates the nomination.
7. A vote of 3/5 of the Senate (60 senators) is required to end debate. This is called a cloture vote. If enough senators wish to delay a vote on a nominee, they can filibuster by not voting to end debate.
8. When debate ends, the Senate votes on the nomination. Confirmation requires a simple majority of the senators present and voting.”
As one can tell from reading through the extensive process, if the decision-making ability is granted to the future president and not President Obama, he or she cannot name Justice Scalia’s replacement easily and quickly. In my opinion, the vacancy will exist approximately two years, if such a decision were to be made.
However, according to CNN.com, the Obama administration has already started the process of figuring out options to name Scalia’s replacement in the Supreme Court.
CNN reports that according to two individuals “who have been involved in the past two Obama Supreme Court nominations and remain close to the administration,” Obama started planning last Saturday night by consulting with his legal team and held meetings the following day to start making a list of potential candidates.
The Obama administration has already started the process of looking for a suitable successor; therefore, it is timely to let the current administration name Scalia’s candidate.