So much for three branches of government with elected officials serving specified terms.
Senate Republicans have decided never mind to all of that with their declaration that they won’t even give a Supreme Court nominee from President Barack Obama so much as a passing glance.
Justice Antonin Scalia hadn’t been dead a day before Republicans started condemning any possible nominee who might be selected by the president, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ramped up the discord Tuesday when he said leaders wouldn’t meet with that person, whoever he or she might be. Credentials? Experience? Temperament? That’s all irrelevant to Mr. McConnell and his colleagues.
The stance of the majority party has put two big asterisks on Article II of the Constitution: the first on Section 1, which says the president “shall hold his office during the term of four years,” and the second on Section 2, which holds that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint ... judges of the Supreme Court.”
Mr. McConnell says otherwise, and he justifies the obstructionism by cloaking it in an assertion that preventing Mr. Obama from acting “can let the people decide” in November. The arrogance of this stand is stunning, and it ignores the inconvenient reality that the people did decide: They elected Mr. Obama for a full second term, not for a term that would expire when the election campaign for his successor got really hot.
A survey last weekend by Public Policy Polling, for the liberal Americans United for Change, concluded that registered voters don’t agree with the Republicans’ approach. Interviews with 859 Pennsylvanians showed that 57 percent thought the vacancy should be filled this year, while 40 percent did not. It also found that 76 percent thought the Senate should see who is nominated before deciding whether to confirm the person, while 20 percent disagreed.
That puts Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who believes the next president should pick the nominee, at odds with his electorate.
It would be unreasonable to suggest that the Senate should agree, sight unseen, to any nomination made by the president. It is equally unreasonable for the world’s greatest deliberative body to dismiss any nominee without a fair hearing.