President Obama took to the virtual pages of SCOTUSblog on Tuesday, appealing to the American people directly in his attempt to nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, who died on February 13th, was renowned for his incomparable commitment to the text of the U.S. Constitution – a trait that lends itself inevitably to conservatism. Since an Obama appointee would be unlikely to match that trait, Republicans in the Senate have vowed to block any nominee until a new president is in office.
“Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “In this case, the Senate will withhold it.”
Knowing he’s facing an uphill battle, Obama wrote a post entitled, “A Responsibility I Take Seriously.”
If you were to read the post without knowing anything about Obama, you would come away wondering why those nasty Republicans would even dream of blocking his nominee. Just listen to this patriotic spiel and pretend you’re not moved. A bald eagle would shed a tear at this rhetoric.
“First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified,” Obama wrote. “He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.”
What else is Obama looking for in a nominee? Oh, someone who won’t try to legislate from the bench! This guy really gets it!
“Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law,” he wrote.
How great does that sound? Any reasonable American would now be pounding their desk in frustration at the Republicans. How dare they block this patriot from performing his constitutional duty?
But…since this post wasn’t written in a vacuum and we know exactly who this president is, you have to wonder how he’ll reconcile his eventual pick with this “above it all” post. He clears that up in his closing comments:
But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment. That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times. That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.
Yeah, that’s how they get you. There’s nothing remarkably offensive about this last part, but it shows you how obvious partisans like Obama can nominate a raging liberal without admitting to playing politics. Oh, did this judge once say the Second Amendment was obsolete? Hmm, I honestly had no idea, guys!
Stay strong, Republicans. You’re going to take a nuclear amount of heat for this united opposition, but the goal – to keep the Supreme Court from falling under a liberal majority – is more than worth it. For once in your elected lives, carry out the will of your voters.