Fill the Vacancy

We extend our condolences to the family and loved ones of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. President Obama remembered Justice Scalia as a “brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions.”

Conservatives are suggesting a strange approach to one of the most important positions in our democracy: leave the seat vacant until 2017.

With nearly a year left in office, the President was clear that he intends to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia.  He also called on the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.

The President has a wide and diverse range of qualified jurists and scholars to choose from, including women, African American, Latino, Asian American, and LGBT prospective nominees.

The Senate should do its job and perform its constitutional duty. They should also get to work on the 39 Federal nominees who are currently waiting for a Senate vote so they can do their important work for the American people.

There is important business before the Supreme Court this term. A new Associate Justice is vital in order for the Court to do the people’s business. It would be irresponsible and unprecedented to let a vacancy on the Court extend into 2017.

There’s certainly plenty of time for the President and the Senate to fill the vacancy.

The last four justices, spanning two Administrations, were confirmed in an average of 75 days.  And since 1975, the average is 67 days to confirmation. Over the past two decades, even the longest confirmation process took only 99 days.  And there are more than 300 days left before the end of the Administration.

Republicans have said that there is no precedent for confirming a Supreme Court nominee during an election year.  That is plain wrong.

In fact, six Justices have been confirmed in presidential election years, including three Republican appointees.  Another 11 have been confirmed in non-Presidential election years.

The most recent was nominated by the Republicans and confirmed by Democrats: Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, was confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in February 1988, 65 days after his nomination in November 1987.

The Equal Justice Society joins The Leadership Conference and other organizations in calling on the U.S. Senate to do its job, give President Obama’s nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote, and fill the vacancy.

Join the discussion on Twitter using the #DoYourJob hashtag.

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