Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging Republicans to quit playing political games, agree to hold hearings and vote on the president’s nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Udall cited the Senate’s constitutional duty as described in Article II, Section 2, to advise and consent on the president’s nominees to the Court. The Senate Majority Leader has said that the Senate will not consider any nominee by President Obama, and Udall highlighted how the Republicans’ obstruction is unprecedented throughout the country’s history.
“The current Senate majority is refusing its constitutional mandate – that it “shall” advise and consent – refusing to do its job for blatantly partisan and political purposes. This is misguided. It is also without precedent,” Udall said in his speech. “The full Senate has always voted on every pending Supreme Court nominee to fill a vacancy – in election years, in non-election years, every single one for the last hundred years…. This is a bipartisan tradition – one that makes sense, one that we should follow.”
He continued: “The Majority Leader said that the voters should have a say in who the next Supreme Court justice is. They had their say – they overwhelmingly reelected President Obama to a four-year term, not a three-year term. There is no logical end-point to the Majority’s new position. They say no president’s Supreme Court nominee should be considered in his last year. What if this were two months ago? Would their views be different if it was December 2015? October? And I might add, presidents are not the only ones with limited terms in office. A number of sitting senators are retiring. Do their constitutional duties and rights as senators expire now as well? Of course not, and neither should a president’s. Nominees should be judged on their merits. They are public servants in the executive branch, on our courts. They serve the people of this country. They should not be judged on your feelings about a president you may not like. That’s not governing – it’s a temper tantrum.”
Udall, who continues to lead the call to end gridlock in the Senate, added that Republicans’ obstruction is contributing to the frustration Americans feel about dysfunction in Washington.
“I’m not arguing that either side is 100 percent pure. But we know one thing – a fully functioning Supreme Court is vital to ensure justice in our system of government and it depends on a fully functioning Senate,” Udall continued. “We have seen before, and we are seeing now that the Senate is broken. The American people are frustrated – fed up with political games, obstruction in the Senate, special deals for insiders, campaigns that are being sold to the highest bidder. They see this obstruction as just another example of how our democracy is being taken away.”