In case you’ve sworn off the news for Lent, taken up residence under a rock or were too swept up in your Galentine’s day friend-romances to notice, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb 13.
Those of us who are not living under rocks were stunned at the news, but after we read several articles about his major contributions to the court and shed a few tears over Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s parting words to her “best buddy,” we reached back through the recesses of our memories to our high school civics class to understand what would happen next.
But if you are like me, and were more focused on how cute your teacher (who was also the football coach) was, here’s a refresher on what a little document called the Constitution says about Supreme Court appointments.
“The President...shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for…” according to Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution.
Though I’m sure the words of those wise (and brave) high school teachers are now ringing in your ears, don’t get too confident yet. Just moments after Scalia’s death was confirmed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement calling for the Senate to block any nominations from President Obama and wait until the new president is sworn in, almost a year from now.
My statement on the passing of Judge Scalia. pic.twitter.com/4JSmbKWzDy— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) February 13, 2016
In fact, almost every one of his tweets since Scalia’s death has been on the topic.
The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. #Scalia https://t.co/QXHfOpEY6G— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) February 14, 2016
Presidents have a right to nominate just as the #Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent. #SCOTUS— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) February 23, 2016
The American people will choose the next president who in turn will nominate the next Supreme Court justice. #LetThePeopleDecide— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) March 1, 2016
Republican presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz have echoed McConnell’s sentiments in their own statements about the Supreme Court vacancy.
Voters must determine who has the judgement to nominate principled constitutionalists to the court https://t.co/MJuREMzPc9 #GOPDebate— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 14, 2016
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump did not join other Republicans in tweeting about a delay in nomination, perhaps because he had other things on his mind.
Now that George Bush is campaigning for Jeb(!), is he fair game for questions about World Trade Center, Iraq War and eco collapse? Careful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2016
He did, however, use Scalia’s death as a platform for playing with some interesting capitalization.
The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2016
Most of those calling for a delay are saying that the American people should have a say in who becomes the next Supreme Court justice. This is confusing to many voters who thought that was what was happening when they elected President Obama. Twice.
But according to a poll released by High Point University on Monday, most North Carolinians want the Senate to consider a nominee while President Obama is still in office.
60 percent of adults in North Carolina think that Obama should nominate someone, and 68 percent believe that the Senate should consider any nominee.
Although only 44 percent of North Carolina adults approve of how Obama is running the presidency, it seems considerably more at least approve of the Constitution.
Brian McDonald, assistant director of High Point University’s Survey Research Center, said that even in North Carolina — a traditionally red state — the number wasn’t necessarily surprising.
“We didn’t know how North Carolinians felt, and Justice Scalia had just passed away when we went into the field with this poll,” McDonald said. “What it tells us is that the respondents that we polled in North Carolina are paying attention to this.”
McDonald said that the poll clearly shows that the majority of North Carolinians want, in President Obama’s words, to tell the Senate to “#DoYourJob.”
Refusing to consider a #SCOTUS nominee before one is even announced is irresponsible. #DoYourJob pic.twitter.com/NiZtwUHmE5— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 2, 2016
The obstruction of our Supreme Court is completely unprecedented. Sign the petition telling the Senate: #DoYourJob. https://t.co/STmBjGzaA0— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 2, 2016
“The majority of people … think that the natural order of business should happen instead of waiting a year,” McDonald said. “North Carolinians just seem to feel that we shouldn’t wait, we should nominate and move on.”
In case you were wondering, Congress’s approval rating is 11 percent.
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