It is clear that the Executive Branch of our Government (the President) is empowered by the Constitution to Nominate Judges to the Supreme Court. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states:
He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law... [emphasis mine]It is also clear that the Legislative Branch (specifically the Senate), as noted above, is empowered by the Constitution to use its powers to give advise and consent to the nominee.
What does that mean? In my opinion, this, in simplest terms, is how the system was meant to work. The President makes his choice. He may follow the advice of the Senate or anyone else as he wishes, but the choice is The Presidents alone. The Senate then determines the qualifications of the Presidents nominee to serve. Qualified by reason of Education and Experience should be the qualifications the Senate Considers. Obviously the ability to interpret the Constitution is necessarily a part of the qualifications. However, the Constitution is subject to different reasonable interpretations. No Senator should refuse to confirm just because the nominee doesn't agree with the Senators view, so long as the nominee's views are within the range of reasonable legal thought. And the Political views or party affiliation should not be part of the standard of judgment of qualifications, so long as the nominee demonstrates the ability to put personal feelings aside if they are inconsistent with legal documentation.
Now enter the words of Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).
New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, said Friday the Senate should not confirm another U.S. Supreme Court nominee under President Bush “except in extraordinary circumstances.”This is an example of Senatorial obstructionism at its worst. Just as a CYA he adds the weasel phrase "except in extraordinary circumstances". But what does this mean. Based on the Senators past partisanship, it is reasonable to assume that he really means: Unless you agree with the Democrats, you will not be confirmed. Considering that Senator Schumer is part of the Democratic Leadership in the Senate, it is fair to infer that he is speaking for the Democratic Party as a Whole.
“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer told the American Constitution Society convention in Washington. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.”
There is a process for the removal of a Supreme Court Justice. It is called Impeachment. But there is no talk of Supreme Court Justice Impeachment, so when the Senator makes the following claim, why doesn't he put his money where his mouth is?
Schumer voted against confirming Roberts and Alito. In Friday’s speech, he said his “greatest regret” in the last Congress was not doing more to scuttle Alito.The Senator is being disingenuous when he refuses to for strictly Political Reasons to vote for any nominee of President Bush.
“Alito shouldn’t have been confirmed,” Schumer said. “I should have done a better job. My colleagues said we didn’t have the votes, but I think we should have twisted more arms and done more.”
The White House has justifiably fired back.
A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said Schumer's comments show "a tremendous disrespect for the Constitution" by suggesting that the Senate not confirm nominees.Is it any wonder that Congressional approval ratings are in the crapper?
"This is the kind of blind obstruction that people have come to expect from Sen. Schumer," Perino said. "He has an alarming habit of attacking people whose character and position make them unwilling or unable to respond. That is the sign of a bully. If the past is any indication, I would bet that we would see a Democratic senatorial fundraising appeal in the next few days."