Commentary: Who honors the Constitution?
It is not the Senate Republicans who follow the Constitution.
Regardless of their full-throated love of the document that forms the basis for our system of government, they are in defiance of its stated provisions. They claim that Obama, with almost a year left in office, is a lame duck with no right to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. The Republican stand disowns their obligation to the Constitution they loudly proclaim to love. This is ironic given the fact that Justice Scalia was a strict constructionist who championed the original intent of the authors of the Constitution. They cannot even claim the support of a popular majority when the results of the last several elections are examined. While they technically have the numbers to deny a nominee, do they have the moral high ground they presume to hold?
Let’s not forget that the Senate Republicans lost the popular vote in the last senatorial election in 2014 by 20 million. However, they ended up with a majority of seats, and chairs of committees as well due to states having two senators each, regardless of population size. They were also outvoted in the presidential election that Obama won in 2012 (51 percent to 47.2 percent).
How do Republican senators legitimately claim to speak for American citizens when they do not represent a majority of citizens? Clearly, they have the ability to deny even considering a replacement by refusing to hold hearings, but does this translate to the right to refuse to perform one of the most important jobs they were elected to perform?
Article II, Section II of the Constitution states: “He (the President)…shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint …Judges of the Supreme Court.” There is no discussion about the timing of these appointments on the duty of the president to appoint, nor the Senate to consider, as the Senate now proclaims. Since there is no lame duck provision, we can only conclude that this is a partisan decision, made by and for the benefit of their party, attempting to usurp Constitutional provisions.
Republicans, whose only policy seems to be saying no whenever possible, tread on treasonous grounds by their back channel dealings with foreign heads of state, a matter clearly within the president’s domain. It is their stated goal to stop any initiatives proposed by the president. In order to thwart Obama, there are more federal judges waiting to be confirmed than any other recent period, regardless of the qualifications of the nominees.
The Republicans currently have a majority in the House of Representatives, but the difference in 2012 was almost half a million votes in favor of Democrats. Remember all those jobs bills that Republicans promised when running in the election? They failed to materialize. Meanwhile, Republicans engineered roughly 56 attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, although it is hard to keep up with that total.
This majority in the House is, in large part, the result of gerrymandering by state legislatures that carve congressional districts to benefit the majority party. Both sides use this tactic, but it is predominantly used by Republican state legislatures. These same state governments also determine where and when to place and open the polls. In some instances, poorer districts are restricted in resources so that voters must wait in long lines to vote. Other tactics have been to restrict hours and make voting more difficult by requiring identification that may be hard or costly to obtain. This tactic is supported by claims of voter fraud, proven by no investigation so far.
It seems that Republicans’ disgust with government results in poor governance by their refusal to vote, approve or even offer any compromise on important legislation before the Congress. Can there be any conclusion other than the Republican Senate members are partisans holding the welfare of their party above the citizens they are sworn to represent?
Steve Foreman is a Front Royal resident.