ANGLES: Deadlock: should Supreme Court justices be appointed in an election year?

Yes, election cycles shouldn’t affect constitutional powers


When the founding fathers wrote “[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to…appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court” in the Constitution, they put no conditions or exceptions with that power.

Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of using the Supreme Court as a means to wage partisan war.

The Supreme Court was meant to be a free and independent branch of government, one that based its decisions solely on the Constitution rather than political agendas.

While the Supreme Court is already politicized, refusing or delaying confirmations for elections is only adding to this problem.

Whether it is Merrick Garland or Brett Kavanaugh, the Constitution requires that the Senate “advise and consent” based on the qualifications of the person put forth by the president.

To ignore that Constitutional duty is holding the Court hostage for political purposes.

The biggest argument for waiting until after an election is to let the will of the people be heard.

However, that line of thinking is flawed.

Voters in 2016 were not supporting Hillary Clinton to advance the nomination of Merrick Garland nor Trump to halt it. The “will of the people” was just a sound bite used by Republican leadership to advance their own agendas.

There are more direct ways for public opinion to be heard on potential justices. Contacting senators, social media and protests have all been used to share opinions on Brett Kavanaugh.

Augie’s own Grace Bucklin garnered attention when she was arrested after demonstrating at Kavanaugh’s Senate hearing.

Delaying judicial confirmations in election years also increases the political gridlock that Congress is already famous for and leaves the Supreme Court in limbo.

78 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress according to the most recent Gallup Poll.

So why would we encourage senators to deliberately not fulfill their constitutional duty?

Additionally, until another justice is confirmed, the Supreme Court will be at risk for 4-4 opinions.

Questions about the validity of our country’s legislation and practices are being put on the shelf because of political bickering.

Supreme Court confirmations should be taken seriously. After all, it is the highest court in the land and justices have a lifetime appointment.

The ability of the Court to do its job effectively and without partisan agenda should be taken just as seriously.

If we start demanding that elections take place before a justice is confirmed, then we should do the same thing before Congress passes any major piece of legislation or before the president makes any major changes to foreign policy.

Delaying something as important as a Supreme Court confirmation is a slippery slope that leads to even more government inefficiency than we already have.

Kelsey is a junior journalism and political science major from Sioux Falls, S.D. 


No, the country’s will should shape the political future



While former President Barack Obama still held his spot in the Oval Office, the executive branch faced the challenge of filling the vacant Supreme Court seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia after his untimely death in February 2016.

A perfect storm for Republicans in the legislature, this combination of an election year and a term-limited democratic president called for a battle of wills to ensure that the position formerly filled by a strict constructionist stayed in the conservative party’s favor.

Hardly before Scalia was pronounced dead, the right side of the aisle was calling on its lame duck president to hold off on nominating a new face for the open position.

With midterm elections on the horizon, many have asked the same question—with possible changes in the legislative body’s composition, should the Senate be able to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat, considering the time frame?

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wrote on the subject in June, arguing that “millions of people are just months away from determining the Senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president’s nominee. And their voices deserve to be heard now, as Leader McConnell thought they deserved to be heard then.”

In other words, Republicans set a precedent in 2016 regarding Supreme Court nominations—to flip-flop after just two years would bring forth nothing less than calls of hypocrisy.

The importance of party politics would be shown to take precedence over protection of the United States Constitution, spelling a dilemma worrisome for all citizens, regardless of ideology or party affiliation.

However, a more important question for the nomination than the presence of an election year should be posed, as timeframe ultimately takes a backseat to the sexual assault allegations that have recently been brought forth.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated federal Circuit Judge Clarence Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall. After the Senate hearings were completed, a private FBI interview of Anita Hill was released that contained detailed information of harassment and assault.

Anita’s claims were dismissed, Thomas was confirmed on a narrow 52-48 margin, and a dangerous precedent concerning how the United States views political prowess over victim’s rights was set in stone.

Fast-forward to 2018, and we once again face the Thomas-Anita question—but this time, in terms of Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.

But this time, we could choose to react differently. We could choose to listen to Ford’s story, conduct a third-party investigation, and weigh Kavanaugh’s words equally with Ford’s.

We need to dismiss the “boys will be boys” fallacy, and hold politicians accountable for their actions, regardless of whether they’re in the White House or walking down Fifth Avenue.

Rebekah is a junior STEM and journalism major from Milbank, S.D.

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