Article II, section 2 of the Constitution grants the president power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Now that Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy has resigned from the Court, President Trump has the opportunity to appoint a second justice. Of all the powers vested in a president, appointing judges may have the most enduring impact of any of a president’s powers.
Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, having been appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1991. The Senate approved Thomas by a vote of 52-48. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second-longest-serving justice, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Senate approved Ginsburg by a vote of 96-3. In 1994, President Clinton appointed his second justice to the Court, Stephen Breyer, who was approved by the Senate by a vote of 87-9.
Eleven years later, President George W. Bush appointed John Roberts chief justice in 2005. The Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed Roberts’ record and approved his nomination with a 13-5 vote. Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein voted in committee against Roberts. The Senate approved Roberts by a 78-22 vote.
Months later, in January 2006, President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to fill the vacancy left by Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Alito’s nomination on a party-line vote of 10-8. The political left waged a huge campaign to thwart Alito’s approval by the Senate. Sen. John Kerry failed in his attempt to filibuster the nomination, and the Senate confirmed Alito by a vote of 58-42.
Six years later in 2009, President Barack Obama nominated his first justice to the Court, Sonia Sotomayor, who was easily confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 68-31. The next year, 2010, President Obama nominated another woman to the Court, Elena Kagan, and the Senate easily confirmed her with a vote of 63-37.
President Donald Trump nominated the newest justice on the Court, Neil Gorsuch, in 2017, following the untimely death of Antonin Scalia, and failure of the Senate to consider Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, before the end of Obama’s presidency.
Again, the political left waged a fierce campaign against Gorsuch. The Senate Judiciary committee approved his nomination along a party-line vote of 11-9. This time Democrats were successful in using the filibuster to prevent a vote by the Senate. Nevertheless, Republican senators invoked the so-called “nuclear option,” first used by Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, to end the filibuster by a simple majority vote. April 7, 2017, the Senate approved Gorsuch by a 54-45 vote.
Monday night, President Trump was scheduled to announce his nominee to the Court. Without knowing whom Trump might nominate, the political left has announced they oppose and are already waging a political campaign against “anyone” nominated.
Opposition by the political left has nothing to do with jurisprudence or qualifications of any of the nominees Trump is considering. The left’s opposition is purely politically ideological.
Why is America so divided? The extreme ideological left, aka socialists, have been waging a political war against the traditional middle class for decades to transform America into a socialist nation. Hopefully, the Senate will confirm Trump’s nominee, and America can resume her exceptional historic narrative.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.