Local political leaders are weighing in after President Barack Obama put forth his nomination Wednesday for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We’re talking about the battle for the sole of American here with a tied court,” said Terry Lathan, Chair of the Alabama Republican Party.” Are we going to go left? Or are we going to go right?”
The Supreme Court is now divided evenly among justices deemed “liberal” and “conservative.”
Almost immediately after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans vowed that the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge would not get a hearing, nor vote.
“This is not an ordinary appointment,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, last month in Mobile while discussing the possibility of any nominee getting consideration.
“We cannot, in my judgment, let President Obama make an appointment that would tilt the court to the left and have the Republican majority in the Senate confirm that,” he said. “That would be nonsense.”
Republicans are arguing that with 10 and half months left in the president’s term, the appointment should be made by his successor.
“This is a lame duck president,” Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, said Wednesday from Washington. “I think the decision should be left to the next president. And I believe that what’s the Senate’s going to do.”
But Republicans were on the other side of the lame duck argument eight years ago when Democrats were threatening to stop President Bush from making Circuit Court appointments in his last year.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions said at the time,”There’s no reason for stopping the confirmation of judicial nominees in the second half of a year in which there is a Presidential election.”
The head of Mobile County’s Democratic Party says the argument doesn’t hold water.
“Take that argument to the ridiculous end,” suggested Vivian Beckerle, Chair of the Mobile County Democrat Party. “Every senator in the last year of his 6-year term could not introduce legislation, or congressman every second year. No – that’s not appropriate. The president’s the president until the last day of his administration.”
But the head of the Alabama Republican Party says history is on the side of delaying Senate confirmation.
“In the last 80 years, on a presidential election year, there has not been a hearing or confirmation when there’s been a Supreme Court slot open,” said Lathan. “So, I think that’s a pretty good precedent to go on.”