The Greensboro News & Record hits the nail on the head this morning with a lead editorial deriding the absurd hypocrisy of Senators Richard Burr, Thom Tillis and others on the question of the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia:
“’In this election year, the American people will have an opportunity to have their say in the future direction of our country,’ Burr said in a statement released by his office Monday. ‘For this reason, I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.’
That notion is both wrong and a political miscalculation.
There is no precedent for denying presidents the chance to appoint justices to the court in the final year of their presidency. They have done so several times, most recently in 1988 when the Senate unanimously confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s choice of current Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Someone could just as credibly argue that Burr, who’s running for re-election this year, should leave important votes to whomever the people of North Carolina choose for his seat in November. But that’s absurd. Burr was elected to a full term; so was Obama. They shouldn’t stop doing their jobs just because their terms are running out. Obama will be in office for 11 more months — plenty of time for the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, and too long to leave a vacancy.”
And here’s the excellent conclusion:
“The president should make it as difficult as possible for the Republicans to get away with it. He can, and should, nominate someone with stellar credentials, a compelling personal story and mainstream legal views, with whom the Senate and the American public can find no legitimate objections. One person mentioned is Greensboro native Loretta Lynch, who has had an outstanding career, but her confirmation as attorney general last year was contentious. Obama can find a centrist judge who was already confirmed to a lower court with Republican support.
Americans now know Republicans have staked out their opposition to any candidate, sight unseen. They can judge whether members of the Senate are carrying out their constitutional responsibility to fairly weigh the merits of a presidential nominee. North Carolina voters can ask Burr why he thinks obstruction is part of his job description.
Scalia’s replacement may shift the court’s ideological balance, but so will the next justice, and the next, and the next. Elections do matter, and Obama is the elected president now. This appointment should be his.”