Although the Supreme Court is rarely thought about by most Americans, the decisions made by its Justices impact the daily lives of all Americans. From reproductive rights to desegregation, significant aspects of political and social progress have been ushered in by the Supreme Court. The LGBT community, in particular, has benefited from the Court’s decisions – from Romer v. Evans, to Lawrence v. Texas to Obergefell v. Hodges the Court has stood beside the community, protecting us from blatantly discriminatory legislation, supporting our right to privacy and granting us our right to marry the person we love.
On Tuesday, February 16, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate a new justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia. President Obama stated, “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.”
However, putting politics ahead of their responsibilities as U.S. Senators, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and a majority of Republican Senators have demanded the nomination be left to the newly elected president and vowed to obstruct the confirmation process if a Justice is nominated prior to then. Article II, Section Two of the U.S. Constitution provides it is the duty of the President of the United States to nominate justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it state that a President may not nominate a justice during an election year, nor is a yearlong block by Republicans consistent with Supreme Court nomination precedent.
The stakes are clear. Justice Scalia, appointed by Ronald Regan in 1986, served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for 30 years, where he furthered his narrow, originalist view of the Constitution; a view that allowed for blatantly discriminatory laws targeting the LGBT community, limited our right to privacy, and that blocked our right to marry the person we love. LGBT Americans deserve a justice who understands what equality under the law really means.
HRC strongly supports President Obama in carrying out his Constitutional responsibilities to seat a justice.