On February 13th, 2016 Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed from this life. He left behind a legacy of votes that both bettered and worsened our once great nation and is the last Supreme Court Justice to have been confirmed with a unanimous vote of all Senators in attendance (98-0, with 2 absent and therefore unallowed Republican votes) on September 17, 1986. Justice Scalia served this nation with honor, and he did it during some incredibly difficult times politically and economically.
In the 24 hours following Justice Scalia’s passing we have seen much ugliness in the press, on Facebook, on Twitter, in the halls of Congress, and I’m sure other places. It is the first time I can recall in my years anybody cheering the death of a Supreme Court Justice.
Democrats have pounced loud and fast calling for an immediate nomination, Republicans have said it will be a slow (if it all) process. There is precedent for the Republicans to act slowly, or to even deny action until a new President is in Office. There is also always the possibility that President Obama puts forth a nominee that is palatable to all and that gets confirmed, though I don’t see this as being very likely based on his previous Supreme and Federal Court nominations.
Now for a little history, which I’m going to pick and choose on as is my prerogative. In this case I’m going to support the current Republican stance of using delay and deny. Before I go further however, I will acknowledge for all that the Democrat and Republican parties today are not necessarily the same as they always were.
The case for the Republicans not accepting a nominee in my mind has to start in 1960. In August of 1960 the Democrat controlled Senate passed S.RES. 334 to prevent President Eisenhower from appointing a Justice while the Senate was in recess, something which President Eisenhower had already shown an inclination to do. (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/86-1960/s415)
From 1960 we’ll do a time warp to 1987. Now we get to a point where instead of just saying wait until after recess, to downright ugliness and lies that all of us are so used to seeing today.
On July 1, 1987 President Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to the seat being vacated by Justice Lewis Powell. 45 minutes later the Democrats started the lies and fearmongering that have permeated all nominations and elections since then with this statement by Senator Edward “Ted” Moore Kennedy, ” Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”
Ultimately, it wouldn’t be until February 3, 1988 and 3 nominations later that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed to the Court. Justice Kennedy is considered a moderate swing vote, and has a record of protecting individual privacy and rights.
It is my Hope for America that this process is smooth and peaceful, though I have no expectation of any such thing based on history that predates me on this planet.
On a separate, yet related commentary I have to say that I am dismayed with just how much of Senator Kennedy’s statement holds too much truth today in Obama’s America, and I’m going to comment on each piece of the quote I used earlier.
- I thank God every day that those who want or need an abortion have access to safe abortions, and I say this even being on the anti-abortion side of the fence. It should be known that I only support abortion in limited circumstances, those being medical necessity to save a woman’s life and for rape/incest victims. I do not support it as a means of birth control, there are many better and more expedient methods available at far less cost to all.
- Segregation is making a comeback by request of those who were once segregated. This saddens me, it is for the betterment of our nation that segregation was ended. I do so hope that “safe spaces” becomes a thing of the past and that our nation can become united as a single people again.
- Our police forces today are more militarized than ever, and more abused than ever. Yes they have raided some places poorly, but even they can only do what they are told based on the law and the warrants they are given to exercise. I hope that this gets better again and we can move forward in peace.
- School children are no longer taught creationism. I always found it odd that a “devout” Catholic was worried about whether evolution was being taught. We need a balance here, arguing for one while denying the other serves nobody well. Teach both, give the students a chance to learn and make an educated decision for themselves. They might surprise you.
- Writers and artists are being censored today. They are denied publication for any number of reasons, though mostly because it is politically expedient to someone or it is religiously abhorrent to someone else. Thankfully we have the Internet which allows even those we don’t agree with a place to write and share their stories and opinions.
- The Federal Courts. From my point of view, the courts today have shut the door on the people. Oh they cater to a few special interest groups to make national news here or there; but they seem far more interested in big money cases that only affect a few major corporations and crony politicos. Our “rights” as a people have been regulated away by Congress and litigated away in the Courts.
In closing, my Hope for America is that we can reunite and become that shining example to the rest of the world that we once were.
Good night, and God Bless America.