While campaigning for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) argued that the best reason to support Toomey would be to block “any” nominations Hillary Clinton would make to the Supreme Court. “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you,” McCain said.
Any nomination Senator? Such an extreme position might normally be considered an aberration, but given Senate Republicans refusal to do their job and consider the nomination of Merrick Garland make this no idle threat. In fact, it’s why voters should reject Senators who refuse to carry out their “advise and consent” Constitutional responsibilities.
The Supreme Court was designed by our founders to be the final arbiter in the legal system — a place of resolution of some of our most difficult national questions not only for the parties involved, but also for our country. Often cases before the Court initiate national soul searching as we confront these questions as individuals and see ourselves as pieces of a broader conversation. For members of the LGBTQ community — who so often find ourselves at the center of this conversation — the Supreme Court, the Justices who serve on it, and the decisions they write are deeply personal. Decisions over the past two decades have provided the LGBTQ community with rapid, and seemingly permanent movement towards equality. We have benefited from the Court’s decisions—from Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, to the marriage equality decision last summer in Obergefell v. Hodges.
However, following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February Senate Republicans have engaged in unprecedented judicial obstruction — refusing to even begin the process for filling this vacancy. By election day next month this shameful obstructionism will culminate in a vacancy exceeding 250 days. Many are vowing to continue to “unite against” any Supreme Court nomination made by a Clinton administration. But let’s be clear. By “uniting against” a judicial nominee these Republicans are also “uniting against” the people and the nation they have been trusted to serve. They are “uniting against” the checks and balances system described by the Constitution and envisioned by our founders. They are “uniting against” the people who appeal to the Supreme Court every year in search of justice — students, workers, businesses. They are “uniting against” all of us.
And that is why this election matters. We need Senators who will do their job and respect the balance of powers that has served this country for centuries. We need a President who understands the impact of the Supreme Court and who will nominate thoughtful, fair Justices. Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans have made it clear that appointing and approving anti-equality Justices to the Supreme Court is a priority. This shameful priority comes at a dear cost — justice for all.
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