The Constitution grants the responsibility of nominating federal judges to the president. The process concludes with the “advice and consent” of the Senate.
Over 600 judges currently sit on U.S. district courts, nearly 200 at the appellate level, and nine who make up the Supreme Court. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have generally enjoyed wide latitude in their choices of nominations for the federal judiciary.
At one time, the advice and consent function of the Senate was largely perfunctory, concerning itself largely with ensuring the professional fitness and moral character of the nominees. Over the past few decades, however, the appointment process has become overly politicized. One would be remiss in not acknowledging that over the years, there have been some real political controversies regarding certain judicial appointments, namely that of imposing political litmus tests over various political questions, including civil rights and abortion rights.
But the politicization of the nominating process escalated to new heights of intensity when, in 2016, a Republican-controlled Senate refused to grant President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, an up-or-down vote.
Senate leadership and rank-and-file Republicans argued that since Obama’s nomination of Garland occurred during the midst of a hotly contested presidential election, the American people would be denied an appropriate voice in the selection of a nominee by allowing the vote.
Democrats continue to blame Republicans for politicizing the Garland nominating process by raising the issue of the upcoming election and refusing to vote on the president’s constitutional prerogative, thus leaving the court without a deciding vote in the months leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of the presidential race.
Furthermore, they argue, the appointment of a conservative justice to replace the vacancy left by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia—a beloved conservative—became a rallying cry for support of the Trump candidacy.
Now the roles have reversed. Senate Democrats have promised to use all parliamentary means at their disposal to obstruct the vote on President Donald Trump’s newest nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, until after the mid-term elections this October. They argue that their action gives the American people a “voice” in selecting the new nominee in that a Democratic takeover of the Senate would force the president to nominate a less conservative justice.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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