When Chief Justice Antonin Scalia died, I was a one-person captive audience who wanted to know more about the Supreme Court. Why did it matter? Why such a fuss over postponing a nomination until after the election year? Could the president just nominate a good person? Did it have to be a liberal vs. conservative fight? Did this have to be a partisan issue? Again? I wanted my students to have the same questions, so I planted a seed, and asked, "Whose parent is an attorney or might have knowledge of the Supreme Court?"
Students volunteered two different moms and two different dads and an uncle-judge.
Our first guest, a graduate of Yale, BYU and Berkley Law school, narrowed all the concerns down to one main point: argument. The argument is centered around whether the president has a right to appoint a supreme court justice or not.
"Whomever comes up with the strongest argument will win," he stated.
Could it really be that simple?
Today, I found what may be the first argument: the United State Senate Judiciary committee has thrown the gauntlet. In a letter addressed to Mitch McConnell, majority leader, eleven of the nineteen members have reiterated the constitutional requirements of the senate in choosing a Supreme Court member. According to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the president may nominate judges of the Supreme Court, but the power to grant or withhold, consent to such nominees rests exclusively with the United States Senate. This reiteration is to insure that the people of the United States receive their right to engage in a robust debate over the type of jurist they wish to have on the nation's highest court.
The letter then resolves to act boldly: "...we wish to inform you of our intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this President to fill Justice Scalia's vacancy. Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017."
Will the president now throw down his argument?
Is the senate majority really that fractured from our president? Does the protection of the will of the American people truly rest on this decision? So many questions and I may not even know the best questions to ask.
The exciting news is that we have another father-lawyer coming on Thursday. He is a Chicago man and I so look forward to putting together a few more pieces of the puzzle.
In a way, our guest speaker today, also threw down the gauntlet. He left us with these words. Think. Think. Think harder.
He was speaking to my students, but I do believe I'm up to the challenge. The privilege of curiosity, investigation and THINKING!