Rushing a SCOTUS vote is not the best idea

by Sep 23, 2020OPINIONS





We are in the throes of a heated election season. Partisanship seems to be at a level unseen in decades, maybe even centuries.

Also, seemingly, most Americans do not seem to be able to find common ground on most issues. And our leaders, for several reasons, are unable or unwilling to seek mutual solutions for the common good. The battle for America’s conscience is in full rage.

With the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a United States Supreme Court seat is now open. Justice Ginsburg served for nearly three decades as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Accolades poured in from both Democrats and Republicans at news of her passing. President Trump stated that Justice Ginsburg was “renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court. She demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view. Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds”. By most accounts, filling her shoes will not be an easy task.

But, time and politics are at a fevered pitch. Angry partisans are already preparing for battle for the seat. There is no time to mourn in a hot political battle that has a finite deadline of Nov. 3. Republicans are promising to get the seat filled, preferably prior to the election. Democrats are promising to “pack the court” if the Republicans fill the seat this way. An already angry and hate-filled election just got coals added to the fire.

The Constitution allows for the sitting president to fill a Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) seat as soon as it is vacated, to be very clinical about it. All mourn the loss of this great leader, but Washington, other than kind words and pulling the flags to half mast, must do its business. The Republicans seem to be poised to “do business” and so do the Democrats. And both are saying that they are taking the moral high ground in their stances.

An old saying that has roots in the Bible says, “Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean you should do a thing.”

SCOTUS seats are lifetime appointments. Like Justice Ginsburg, the person who fills her seat will potentially interpret law for the remainder of their lives, which could be decades of decisions. Those decisions will transcend generational boundaries. They will stand transitions in ideology, philosophy, and special interests. Being a Supreme Court Justice requires the utmost in ethics and integrity. The selection of this kind of judge should, must, be required to have a thorough vetting. And above all, the decision to select a Supreme Court Judge should not be relegated to partisan politics as the primary deciding factor.

Again, this is a lifetime appointment. The country will live with this person and decision possibly for decades. Therefore, it is critically important that the candidate for the seat be tested by both the Executive and Legislative Branches of the American government. In the heat of battle is no place for a decision of this magnitude.

SCOTUS can continue its work with eight justices. Granted, this may cause difficulty if the decisions of each are equally divided on a ruling, but they can function until a candidate for appointment is properly vetted.

I just think that a decision of this importance doesn’t need to be made in haste. And, it certainly doesn’t need to be made when emotions are at a fevered pitch. The community will be better off with a well-considered Associate Justice. It would be best if we could remove the partisan politics from the mix while selecting a presumedly non-partisan seat, but absent of that option, we should postpone the selection until we have a more clear idea of which direction the country will move. And, yes, the decision should be prayerfully considered.