Holding Supreme Court Seats Hostage
In early 2016, we saw the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. This led to months of arguing along party lines and multiple delays confirming a replacement Justice for almost an entire year. The reasoning used for blocking any nomination was to see how the election ended and to allow the winner to select the new Justice. This delay was pushed by congressional Republicans in hopes that it could be postponed until they had control over the White House as well. This delay worked, and the new Justice pick ended up going to President Donald Trump in 2017.
With the recent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, we are now in need of a new Supreme Court Justice. Last time Congress delayed the pick until the end of the election; and, with 2018 also being an election year, shouldn't we wait again for the election to play out? With a currently volatile political atmosphere, it's not outside the realm of possibility that party control might flip. A change in party control would lead to a drastically different Justice confirmation process. And with delays, the last one took almost a year. Why not delay this one another six months?
Supreme Court Justices have the most extensive effect on the government since they are there for life and a president's choice will affect the government long after their term is over. Now that the selection process has been muddied, should a pick be whatever president is currently in office or is there a cutoff when it should then be delayed until after the next election? With a single party still in control of every branch, it's unlikely that the confirmation for Justice Kennedy's replacement will be delayed into 2019, but with the treatment of Scalia's replacement, we need to consider if we should treat this replacement the same way. The decision process used with these Justices doesn't just affect the current president, but will impact the country for decades.