Saturday, February 20, 2016

The President Shall Nominate a Replacement for Justice Scalia

No sooner had Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice  of the Supreme Court un-expectedly died, when the controversy over his replacement started.

The President wants to nominate a replacement.  A number of Republican senators and Presidential candidates say we should wait until the public votes for a new president.

Who is correct?  

Let's start with a quote from the Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 2.  Referring to the President of the United States, the second sentence of the second paragraph states "...and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Justices of the supreme Court..."

At times like these, we should follow the Constitution.  The Constitution is clear, using the auxiliary verb "shall" to indicate an obligation.  Not just a nice idea, not just a suggestion, not just maybe he should, but "shall" means it's a true obligation.

Most importantly, there's nothing in the Constitution saying that if the President only has 1 year left in his term, he should wait for the next President.  It's just not there.

So the President is obligated to submit a nominee to the Senate.  Once nominated, the Senate has its role of providing Advice and Consent.  In that role, the Senate can advise the President that he shouldn't have nominated anyone.  But, giving the obligatory nature of the auxiliary verb "shall," that would be unconstitutional advice.  Sorry, Senators!

The Senate also must provide its Consent to any nominee.  If the Senate does consent to the nominee of the President, they can vote accordingly.  And the President can try again.  And the Senate might not vote to approve the nominee.  This back and forth until the next President is sworn in.  That would at least be constitutional.

But, to follow the Constitution, the President shall nominate a replacement for Justice Scolia.  Not to do so would be unconstitutional.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking especially as a trained paralegal , I know that this is correct