“When you have a voice, you also have a moral obligation to use that voice for good.”
Shortly after President Obama announced his pick to replace Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw down the proverbial gauntlet when he proclaimed, “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent.”
McConnell arrogantly flaunted his position of leadership and authority in the U.S. Senate by taking his obstructionist position even further. He tweeted, “The American people deserve a voice in the next #SCOTUSnominee.” Next, he taunted, “One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, ‘You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.” Now, McConnell plans to further shape the court by rewriting his rule on Supreme Court nominations during an election year.
McConnell has a penchant for dirty politics and even though many disagreed with his obstruction, rather than fighting back, they took comfort in the hoped-for outcome of that year’s presidential election. They believed Democrats would hold the presidency and appoint a new justice after the election—that was not to be.
One of Trump’s first actions was the appointment of a conservative justice to fill the vacancy on the court—a prerogative stolen from President Obama.
Now, the nation is once again locked in battle over the appointment of an Associate Justice. With flagrant hypocrisy, McConnell has chosen to ignore the precedent he set in 2016, and instead wants to schedule hearings and vote on the president’s nomination as soon as possible even though a critical election is only four months away.
Mitch McConnell may be able to authorize a confirmation hearing for the candidate before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He may be able to schedule a vote of the full senate on the president’s nominee. But, there is one thing McConnell cannot do—he cannot silence the American people during the process.
Each day the public learns more and more about the role Russia played in helping to secure the election of Donald Trump. The public has also recognized the president’s aberrant actions in the realm of foreign policy and his destructive decisions related to the environment, immigrants and Americans of color, the poor, members of the LGBT community and untold others.
In addition to his dubious election, unpredictable behavior and questionable leadership, Trump has also been enabled by a cowardly, neutered and ineffective Republican-led congress set on breaking all the rules to do the president’s bidding. There are supposed to be three co-equal branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial. What will happen when and if conservatives control all three?
In the upside-down nation that is now America, political lies are peddled as truth, the truth is disparaged as falsehood and the president rules like an “emperor with no clothes.” Those closest to him know it and are either complicit in his delusion/corruption or afraid to speak the truth. The moral of Hans Christian-Anderson’s fairy tale about the “emperor with no clothes” showed how the pressure to conform can really tempers one’s willingness to challenge the status quo or question things that others around us see—even when we all know what we are witnessing is wrong or untrue.
We should not acquiesce to the appointment of another conservative Supreme Court Justice without fighting for a more main-stream selection. After all, less than 40 percent of Americans identify as conservatives and there is far too much at risk for the many who do not. A new SurveyMonkey poll showed a combined 66 percent of Americans would prefer a moderate or liberal be selected to fill the court vacancy.
In addition to a woman’s right to choose, the nation’s highest court may render future decisions on partisan gerrymandering and voting rights, health care, criminal justice reform, Affirmative Action, the death penalty (particularly in relation to minors and those who are mentally disabled), and the list goes on and on.
Congressional Republicans function more like “subjects in the mythical kingdom ruled by an emperor with no clothes” than elected officials. This makes it more important than ever for Americans to embrace the obligation of citizenship that calls on them to engage in the political process. At times, such engagement can require more from us than just casting a ballot on election day it requires us to raise our voices when needed.
Regardless of your politics, weigh in on this issue and let the president and congress know where you stand. You can do so by filling out the online contact form or by calling the White House switchboard at (202) 456-1414 or the comments line at (202) 456-1111 during normal business hours. You can also share your opinion with U.S. Senators and/or the House Representatives by calling (202) 224-3121.
Americans are bound together as a nation by something stronger than race or religion. For more than 200 years despite our failures and frailties, we remained connected by our belief in “we the people” as we hurled toward an unknown future. For much of the nation’s history, Democrats and Republicans have constantly pulled and tugged, sometimes together but usually against each other, in their all-out efforts to control the nation’s destiny. Today, both the journey and the struggle continues. . .
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.