A letter to the editor last week from Stephen Erwin implied I don’t realize Democrats, just like Republicans, are capable of it.
But obstructionism simply wasn’t what I was talking about. I was criticizing ideas that would be dangerous in practice regardless of whether obstructionism was part of implementing them or not.
Now I’m talking about it.
I can’t think of anything more obstructionist than Republicans wanting to make sure President Obama can’t appoint someone to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Antonin Scalia’s death.
I get it. It’s a big deal to appoint a justice, particularly when the remaining eight often split evenly. Both parties would prefer to be in the White House when it happens.
The reality is that Obama is in the White House. Voters put him there. It’s his job to nominate someone. It’s the Senate’s job to give the nomination fair consideration.
No, the Senate isn’t obligated to confirm the nomination.
But the process should be about the nominee, and one hasn’t been named yet. Anyone blindly declaring now that they don’t want to hold a hearing for any candidate is acting childish and petty.
There’s no guarantee Obama will nominate any particular kind of person. I can’t imagine him appointing a Scalia clone, but how liberal is a nominee likely to be when Obama knows they’ll have a Republican-led Senate to get through?
That Senate ought to wait and see.
Plus, there’s no guarantee an Obama appointee would end up acting in the way Obama hopes or expects.
Nor is there a guarantee delaying would ensure a Republican president gets to make a nomination.
Is it really wise to gamble on voters preferring nearly a year of childish obstruction over a functional Supreme Court and a Senate that does its job?
The fact that it would be so long is significant.
It’s not as if Obama has six weeks left in office and the Senate wouldn’t have enough time to thoroughly vet someone.
Only four nominations have taken 100 or more days, with the longest being 125 days for Louis Brandeis in 1916.
Obama has 11 months left — enough time for a 125-day process twice, with weeks to spare.
In the meantime, every 4-4 vote is a waste of the taxpayer money that funds the Supreme Court. That’s another lower court decision that stands not by agreement but by default, more time the Supreme Court might as well have spent doing nothing.
Rendering an entire branch of the federal government pointless for so long would be irresponsible — and disrespectful to the Constitution conservatives claim to respect so much.
Now, so that I’m not accused of being blind to obstructionism when it suits me: yes, Obama, voted to filibuster during Justice Samuel Alito’s confirmation process.
Keep in mind the senators who voted for it — there were only 24, so it didn’t happen — did so based on concerns specific to Alito. It wasn’t done blindly and stubbornly before President George W. Bush had even given a name.
But the current sweeping vow of non-cooperation is wasteful of tax dollars and disrespectful to the Constitution — two things conservatives usually rail against.
The hypocrisy is amazing.