Why the rush to replace Justice Ginsburg?
To the editor:
Certainly the Constitution grants the president the right to nominate a candidate to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but the question is, why the rush in the current situation? With an election just six weeks away, making a nomination at this time serves just two possible purposes.
First, it tells the American people whom the incumbent president is going to nominate. This has the advantage of playing to his base by nominating someone appealing to that base. It also notifies potential voters of his choice and thereby may influence their choice in the coming election.
Second, it represents a last-ditch effort to get his candidate approved before his term ends as insurance to get another conservative justice on the court even if he loses the election.
While naming a justice is a very important and consequential decision, it is one that should NOT be made purely for political reasons but rather for the long-term benefit of the country, since this is a lifetime appointment. As Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham noted in 2016, the people should have their say when a presidential election is at hand.
I would suggest that it is totally proper and perhaps helpful for President Trump to make his nomination. It is even appropriate for the candidate to make his or her traditional visits to members of the Judicial Committee and other members of Congress to allow them to get to know the candidate. It is even appropriate for the Senate Judicial Committee to begin deliberations on vetting the candidate; HOWEVER, a final vote on the candidate both at the committee level and especially at the whole Senate level should not occur until the outcome of the election is known. Should President Trump win reelection, his nominee can then proceed quickly through the process. On the other hand, should Mr. Biden win the election, the candidate should be withdrawn or voted down and Mr. Biden should be allowed to make a nomination upon inauguration. This would allow the public to speak and would allow the will of the public to have a say in the makeup of the court.
I firmly believe that the big push to ramrod the nomination and approval process forward before the election is because both Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell are worried that they will lose power in this election and therefore lose the ability to “pad” the court with another justice from the far-right conservative pool of candidates.
Let us hope that enough members of the Senate show consideration to the public and allow the election to take place before completing the process of filling this vacancy.
David G. Welch, MD