Washington, D.C., March 7, 2016— In response to Republican promises to refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee this year, 356 law professors and legal scholars have written a letter to the Senate leadership of both parties urging them “to fulfill your constitutional duty to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a prompt and fair hearing and a timely vote.”
The professors, including some of the top constitutional experts in the country, such as Charles Ogletree, Kenji Yoshino, and Laurence Tribe, counter arguments made by Republican senators that the Senate has no obligation to consider the president’s nominee in an election year. The professors declare that,
“This preemptive abdication of duty is contrary to the process the framers envisioned in Article II, and threatens to diminish the integrity of our democratic institutions and the functioning of our constitutional government.
President Obama was elected to a four-year term in 2012. According to the Constitution, that term has more than 300 days remaining. There is no exception to the Constitution holding that the president lacks the authority or duty to appoint justices to the Supreme Court because he is in the last year of his presidency. In fact, six justices have been confirmed in presidential-election years since 1900, including Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, and Republican-appointee Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed by a Democratically-controlled Senate during President Ronald Reagan’s last year in office.”
The scholars also share the concern of many legal observers who fear the consequences of a deeply divided and incomplete Court during a period of significant constitutional uncertainty. They conclude by declaring that, “The Senate must not defeat the intention of the Framers by failing to perform its constitutional duty. The Senate Judiciary Committee should hold a prompt and fair hearing and the full Senate should hold a timely vote on the president’s nominee.”
A copy of the letter, including the names of the signatories, is attached and may also be downloaded here.