Senate should at least consider Obama’s nominees

Sunny Kim

Only hours after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” McConnell made his intentions very clear — he plans to unite the Senate’s GOP members against every nominee of President Barack Obama. This declaration only makes the GOP members within the Senate seem irrational and scornful of compromise. They should at least consider Obama’s nominees before making a final decision.     

According to the Constitution, it is the Senate’s job to “advise and consent” the president about the next Supreme Court justice. But this senatorial cooperation is completely lacking. In the absence of their input, the party’s ideological stubbornness has splintered it and wrecked its public image.

This notion of irresponsibility is perpetuated when we see that the statement by Mitch McConnell is not unanimous among GOP members. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said that Republicans should at least consider an Obama nominee. 

Grassley highlighted the need to take one step at a time, saying, “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision.” Johnson also emphasized how he would “fulfill [his] constitutional role in voting,” but argued there’s no harm allowing the process to move forward. The differing opinions in the GOP is indicative of the instability of the party as a whole. 

This irresponsibility negatively impacts the people. The vacancy enlarges the powers of the Senate, which is not fair to the people. The public, as a result, is unconvinced of the Senate’s ability to do its job. The GOP’s favorability is the lowest it has ever been since 1992. The Republican Party is also viewed less favorably compared to the Democratic Party, resulting in 37 percent versus 45 percent, respectively. The low approval ratings reflect the people’s discontent with Republicans with how they are doing their job.   

Government professor Sean Theriault explains the main cause for political partisanship today. 

“The largest driver is the ideological purity that drives both parties, though it drives the Republican party more,” Theriault said. “It was lowest in the early 1970s and has been getting worse ever since.” 

The purpose of partisanship is to balance the powers between the three branches of government. However, when there is increasing unbalance, bitter rivalries can cause unnecessary harm to others. It is important for us to do our jobs and to be responsible for our actions. McConnell and the majority need to at least consider the nominees. Their current position harms not only their public image and reputation, but also the credibility of the GOP as a whole.

Kim is a journalism freshman from Austin. Follow Kim on Twitter @sunny_newsiee.