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The Supreme Court, The GOP, and the Strom Thurmond Rule

Submitted by Robin Messing on Sun, 02/14/2016 - 6:31pm

Republicans are invoking the  Strom Thurmond rule  as an excuse to deny President Obama his right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. They aren't even going through the pretense of waiting until Obama nominates a new Justice before saying they intend to shoot him down.  

Ted Cruz has vowed to filibuster any nominee President Obama picks so that the people can have a voice in the next election. Marco Rubio agrees. They both believe that a lame duck president in his last year in office should not be picking a new Justice.  They want, instead, to delay the selection of the new Justice until after the next President is sworn in. As  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell writes

The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.


It is important to note that they have announced their intentions to shoot down  ANYONE Obama nominates--whether he or she is qualified for the job or not.  In doing so, they have declared their intentions to abrogate their responsibility. The Constitution says the President gets to choose a Supreme Court nominee and it delegates the Senate's role to giving its "Advice and Consent" on the nomination.  For those who have reading comprehension problems, the phrase "Advice and Consent" means the Senate is supposed to ADVISE the President on the nominee and give their CONSENT unless they have specific reasons why they believe the nominee is not fit to do the job. Or, to put it in mathematical terms:

Advice and Consent = Advise and Consent

Advice and Consent DOES NOT EQUAL Block and Obstruct


If it is not immediately obvious to you that the Republicans are abrogating their Constitutional obligation then you should read this excellent column by The Atlantic staff writer Conor Friedersdorf. Senator Elizabeth Warren also summed it up nicely in her Facebook post. 

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United...

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Republicans should be honest in explaining why they will filibuster Obama's appointment. They aren't going to filibuster the appointment so that the American people will have a say in the next nominee. The American people gave President Obama a four year mandate in 2012. That's FOUR YEARS. Not three and a half years. Or three years and eleven months. FOUR YEARS. And part of that mandate was the right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice should a vacancy occur. The American people have already had their say, and any pretense by the Republicans that they are doing this for the benefit of the American people is just that--pretense. The Republicans are doing this for one reason and one reason only--they know they will not like the decisions an Obama appointment will make. This is about Republicans trying to fulfill their agenda, and Constitutional responsibilities be damned.
So the Republicans are invoking the Strom Thurman Rule--a rule that really doesn't exist at all--to deny the first African American President his right to even have a chance of making a final Supreme Court appointment. And let us not forget that Senator Strom Thurman was a racist extraordinaire. If I were a Republican, I'd be embarrassed to invoke Strom Thurman's name. But evidently many in the GOP leadership have no shame. 


Update: Obama should nominate Ted Cruz for the Supreme Court.  Then he should sit back and watch to see if Ted Cruz will filibuster his own nomination.  If Cruz does not filibuster himself then Obama should withdraw the nomination on the grounds that Cruz has proven himself untrustworthy and demonstrated that he can't be counted on to keep his promises.