The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has triggered a bitter (and predictable) political struggle. But while political divisions have always characterized American politics, this one is particularly dismaying, for it features Republicans, who really should know better, savaging the plain meaning of the Constitution.
Article II, Section 2 clearly states that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court …”
It says nothing about the president holding off during election years.
Yet many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the five men seeking the GOP nomination for president, say Obama should wait, allow the people to choose a president, and then let that president make the next nomination.
This is nonsense. The Constitution is entirely clear, a point driven home by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist. He wrote that the power of nomination resides exclusively with the president, and the power to confirm or reject a nomination resides exclusively with the Senate.
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