Letter to the Editor: Letter Writer Missed the Point

Frankly I don’t care whether Mr. Gorsuch gets confirmed or not, but Ms. Gatenby’s statements (March 24 Pulse) that the Senate failed to carry out its Constitutional duty and that the seat on the Supreme Court was “unconstitutionally stolen” are so outrageous I can’t let it pass.

First let’s get the politics out of the way. In 1992 then Senator Biden was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He gave an impassioned speech in the Senate that George Bush, a lame duck just as Obama was, should follow the example of his predecessors and delay the nomination of a Justice until the election was over and that the Senate should refuse to confirm if a nomination was made. “That is what is fair…” a direct quote of Biden.

He is not alone among the Democrats. In 2007, a year and a half before Bush’s presidency was up, Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he would block any Supreme Court nominations Bush might make. So, I guess when the shoe was on the other foot it was fair and Constitutional, but not now.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution sets out some of the powers and duties of the President (not the Senate)  “….he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States….”

It seems pretty straightforward. The President needs the Senate’s consent to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. That is all it says. It puts no onus, requirement or Constitutional duty on the Senate to act. It doesn’t say the Senate must consent or that the Senate may not withhold consent.

There was a proposal during the framing of the Constitution that the President could make an appointment and the burden was on the Senate to veto it. That was dropped in favor of “advise and consent,” which puts no obligation or duty on the Senate to act. Over the years 36 nominations have failed, 25 of them without any action by the Senate.

John Fletcher

Ellison Bay, Wis.

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