Debunking the Absurd Republican Reasons for Blocking Obama from Naming Scalia’s Replacement

In all the years President Obama has been in office, we’re now about to see, firsthand, probably the worst (and ugliest) political battle of his career when it comes to replacing Antonin Scalia’s spot on the Supreme Court. While we’re still months away from the election, we cannot let “story fatigue” set in. Until Scalia’s announcement is approved, or a Democrat wins the White House in November, everyone on the left needs to make this a key topic for discussion.



But I would like to take a moment to debunk the utterly absurd arguments Republicans are trying to use to defend the fact that they’re going to try to delay replacing Scalia for a year. Actually, it will be even longer considering the next president won’t get sworn in until late January, then it will take at least a couple of months to officially replace his spot. So, if Republicans get their way, we’re looking at the very real possibility that it won’t be until next March or April until the vacancy is filled.

That’s absolutely ridiculous.

The biggest argument these folks are making is that a president shouldn’t be allowed to pick a justice in their final year. After all, it hasn’t been done in “80 years” according to people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

First, it has been a very long time since a president both nominated and had a justice confirmed in their last year in office. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy assumed his spot on the Supreme Court on February 18, 1988 – Ronald Reagan’s final year in office. So, what Republicans are trying to claim is that, had Scalia died on December 31, 2015, they wouldn’t be pulling this. As any rational person knows, that’s complete nonsense. Even if Scalia had passed in November, which is the month Reagan nominated Kennedy, they would still be trying to delay having President Obama select his replacement.

Also, let’s not forget, Scalia died. The reason why final year nominees are so infrequent is likely due to the fact that most justices who leave the bench retire. Most aren’t going to retire in the last year of a president’s term, and it’s fairly uncommon for a justice to die while still sitting on the Supreme Court.

Then there’s also the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the man who said we shouldn’t appoint Scalia’s replacement in President Obama’s final year, supported Kennedy’s nomination in Reagan’s final year in office. Not that many Republicans care about looking stupid, but do you realize how stupid it looks for a Republican who supported a final-year Supreme Court nomination to now say we shouldn’t do that? Then again, this is the Republican party – the masters of hypocrisy.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but where in the Constitution does it say that a president, in their last year of office, shouldn’t have the right to pick Supreme Court nominees? Say what you want about Antonin Scalia, but he fancied himself someone who interpreted the Constitution exactly as it was written. And in the Constitution it says that the job of a sitting president is to handle Supreme Court nominations – period. It does not say that a president in their last year of office forfeits that right. The fact that Senate Republicans are claiming that they’re going to refuse to even go through with the procedure of picking Scalia’s replacement based on partisan politics is not what the Constitution meant for this process to be.



Another reason they’re citing for this is that a president without anymore elections to run doesn’t have to face the “consequences from the voters” for whoever they pick. Well, by that “logic,” are Republicans saying no president during any point of their second term should have the right to nominate justices to the Supreme Court? Because the fact is, the day after President Obama was re-elected, his entire second term became a “lame duck.” So that entire argument is invalid.

Let’s also point out one glaring fact: He has almost a full year left of a four year term

Republicans are literally trying to argue that a president should ignore their duties for nearly 25 percent of their second term as president. Again, by that “logic,” why do anything your last year in office? I guess President Obama should stop authorizing air strikes against ISIS, right? After all, it’s his last year – he won’t have to face repercussions for anything he does. Then again, since the moment he won re-election in 2012, he personally hasn’t had to face any sort of voting repercussions for his policies.

Also, it’s not as if we’re three weeks from the November elections. President Obama literally has almost a full year left in office. To argue that the Senate shouldn’t allow him to fulfill his duties as president for nearly 25 percent of an entire presidential term is a direct slap in the face to our Constitution. The Senate trying to use this to play petty partisan politics definitely was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Not only that, but I can promise you if the situation were reversed, Republicans would damn sure want a GOP president to replace Scalia in their last year in office. While Democrats might try to use some of the same arguments Republicans are using right now, I would completely disagree with my party if they tried. If a Supreme Court spot opens up under a Republican president, then they get that selection. I am sick and tired of petty partisan politics by both sides, ignoring the way things should be to play these childish games.

Win or lose, that victory or defeat should come by the rules, not because the process was fixed or rigged. You can’t call yourself a proud American or defender of our Constitution when you want to try to manipulate “democracy” whenever it doesn’t suit you.

So, I plan to make it my mission as often as I can to hammer Republicans until either Scalia’s replacement is picked or a Democrat wins the White House in 2016. But this has to be a wake up call for everyone in this country. We cannot allow Republicans to win back the White House. If we do, we’re likely setting progress in this nation back an entire generation. With another three justices likely to be replaced over the next five years – health care, climate change, gay rights, voting rights and women’s rights are all directly on the line.

And all we have to do to ensure that all of that’s protected for decades is to get out and vote blue, no matter who.




Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • GenerallyConfused

    Talking points to their base. Rile them up, they don’t know what the Constitution says anyway and don’t go fact finding. The base of these people listen with blind faith, thinking that whatever they say it’s the whole truth – because a conservative wouldn’t bend the facts to fit a narrative at all…

    …yeah.

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  • strayaway

    Obama has an absolute right and duty to nominate justices any time during his administration. The Senate will consent to a president’s nominee if it chooses. Democrats dragged out the Robert Bork hearings for four months before he withdrew himself from consideration. Its quite possible that if Obama chooses to nominate people such as his attorney generals, they too will be rejected. His best strategy would be to find someone both parties will approve of. Justice Kennedy, for instance, was acceptable to both parties although Bork wasn’t.