Our View: GOP shouldn’t play games

Our View

In short: Americans deserve a fair debate about Justice Stevens’ replacement, not a childish political fight.

It’s almost become a cliché, but one of the most important and lasting impacts a president has is his (or, maybe one day, her) effect on the makeup of the Supreme Court.

President Obama has already made his mark on the court once, but he has another opportunity with the recent retirement announcement of Justice John Paul Stevens.

Now, Obama has a chance to change the court and set a standard for how justice will be served at the highest level for years to come. All he has to do is avoid a knock-down, drag-out fight in the Senate.

The Senate has not always been kind to Obama. The battle over Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination created a lot of polarization, and the nomination of Stevens’ replacement could create a similar firestorm. Senate Republicans have to make a decision on how they will approach Obama’s nomination. Will they oppose Obama’s nominee because he or she is not qualified, or because they feel they can score points with voters if they continue to fight Obama?

The Senate has a duty to evaluate and confirm Supreme Court nominations. Their job is to make sure the candidates are qualified and that they will faithfully protect the Constitution.

There is a difference, however, between governing and obstructing.

Alabama’s own Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has stated that, “If it’s somebody like [a liberal activist judge], clearly outside of the mainstream, then I think every power should be utilized to protect the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans get to decide what the “mainstream” is. We can hope, for the sake of the efficiency of Congress that they mark the “mainstream” as being qualified, intelligent candidates and that outsiders are people who are clearly unqualified and incapable of being objective.

If Republicans play politics with this nomination, however, they could easily just decide that anyone Obama nominates is “outside of the mainstream.”

Americans deserve a simple up or down vote for their next Supreme Court justice. If Republicans can prove that a candidate is too far outside of the mainstream, they should be able to convince half of America’s democratically elected representatives in Washington to vote against him or her. If the candidate is qualified, Republicans should save the campaigning for the trail and keep it off of Capitol Hill.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board. Managing Editor Alan Blinder recused himself this editorial.