02.26.16

Weekly Column: Justice Scalia: The Gold Standard

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be greatly missed by his family and loved ones, as well as all Americans who share his core conservative values and beliefs. For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was one of the court’s strongest defenders of our Constitution. His brilliant legal mind and animated character will be remembered, studied and celebrated for generations to come. The Senate recently paid its respects to Justice Scalia by unanimously passing a resolution honoring his life, legacy and legal contributions to our country.

Justice Scalia’s death has left a vacancy on the bench of our nation’s highest court that will be difficult to fill. Under the Constitution, the president is allowed to nominate a replacement, and the Senate has a Constitutional role of “advice and consent.” This is a Constitutional responsibility that I take very seriously. The Supreme Court is the final authority for interpreting federal laws and the Constitution. The decisions it makes often have long-lasting ramifications that – in one vote – can dramatically alter the course of our country. 

At a time when the current administration has stretched the limits of the law and attempted to circumvent Congress and the federal court system, choosing the right candidate with the aptitude for this lifetime appointment is as important as ever. After giving it much thought, I have determined that my benchmark for the next Supreme Court Justice will be Justice Scalia himself.  Scalia’s strict interpretation of the Constitution and deference to states’ rights set a gold standard by which his replacement should be measured.

Recently, every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—which is in charge of reviewing court nominations—sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressing their firm belief that the people of the United States deserve to have a voice in determining the next Supreme Court justice. In their letter they wrote, “Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear. The president may nominate judges of the Supreme Court. But the power to grant - or withhold - consent to such nominees rests exclusively with the United States Senate.” As a result, the committee does not plan on holding any hearings related to this issue until after the election in November. This decision will allow the American people to have a voice in the next Supreme Court Justice based upon who they elect as president in the upcoming election.

Whoever is confirmed to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court will be serving a lifetime appointment. Keeping in mind the current political makeup of the court, the man or woman who will replace Justice Scalia has the potential to hold incredible influence over the ideological direction of the court for generations to come. It is critically important that the next justice is committed to upholding the principles of the Constitution. We owe it to Justice Scalia, our judicial system, the Constitution and every American to uphold the highest standards when determining our next Supreme Court Justice.