Within the judiciary, the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia has remained vacant for over a year, an absence blamed on politicized agendas and promotion of ideologies. The Constitution establishes the process of checks and balances, yet they have recently been hindered by the judicial system, which is delegated with the responsibility for maintaining its application. The slow-moving, deliberate and cognitive judicial system is the one branch of government that is intended to remain insulated from public opinion. It is troubling that this intention has been overlooked in recent years and Supreme Court appointees have continuously confirmed the policies of the president. This was most recently exhibited in last year’s presidential campaign by President Donald Trump, who promised to nominate an anti-abortion candidate to the Supreme Court. The seats of all courts should be filled with judges who have proven themselves through their merits, education and unwavering devotion to the United States of America, rather than politicized appointees who will act as a rubber stamp to the president’s policy agenda.
President Obama, to ensure the judicial branch maintained its order, skillfully walked the middle of the aisle in an attempt to please both liberals and conservatives with a moderate appointee, Merrick Garland. The intention to provide a temperate and competent nominee for the Supreme Court was erroneously interpreted and prompted a party gridlock among the Senate. The shockwave of frustration and anger triggered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell following his decision to halt the nomination process of Garland is understandably reviled by Democrats. The time that has elapsed while the seat has been empty has provoked political polarization and put the nonpartisan position in jeopardy of being constitutionally compromised. This is evident in the magnification of the issue during the recent presidential election process. The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice was regarded as perhaps the most prominent indicator of voting inclination and a topic highlighted in both campaigns. With the inauguration of a new executive, the administration has fulfilled campaign rhetoric and appointed Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, to fill the vacancy of Justice Scalia. Despite the rampant emotionalism that has ensued in response to this nomination, Democrats and Independents alike should opt to rank Gorsuch on his merits and separate politics from judicial appointments. Senate members are hypocritical and ill-regarded if they do not confirm a nomination for a position held above political inclination strictly based on party affiliation. Providing deference to Trump’s appointee is imperative to a functioning democracy.
American democracy relies on a series of checks and balances. The courts, therefore, serve as a check not only on the people but the executive and legislative branches of government. Without a full and complete Supreme Court, the powers of the American executive have one less obstacle to overcome. The actions of McConnell and Senate Republicans in refusing to vote on Garland have perpetuated feelings of victimhood among those on the democratic side, which has since morphed into an iron wall of opposition among the electors and elected. The opposition by some Democrats seems to be a conscious vengeance and liberals have called for blocking any and all of Trump’s Supreme Court nominations, regardless of their education and aptitude to thrive in the position. This type of obstructionist partisanship sounds an alarm for the future of American democracy and indicates a future political climate where elected officials are unable to forget the past and work across party lines. However, liberal fears should be allayed by Gorsuch’s response to President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. Gorsuch reprimanding the president should temper the concerns of liberals by conveying a preliminary sense that the Constitution will be upheld, despite a possible overbearing executive branch.
On the other end of the ideological spectrum, conservatives embrace Gorsuch who, after all, is heir to the constitutionalist throne of the revered Scalia. Gorsuch, a warrior for constitutional conservatism, walking embodiment of ivy league education and inherently photogenic, is nevertheless a safe pick for the Trump administration whose easy confirmation through the Senate is inevitable. Independent senators like Maine’s Angus King correctly confirmed Gorsuch’s qualifications as a legitimate candidate as typified by the deference Senate members are giving to the judge. Liberals who are unwilling to support Gorsuch because of party politics and the stained history caused by Garland’s stolen nomination should practice this type of civility. A functioning judicial system is imperative for a modern democracy. Rank and file liberals seeking to please constituents who want nothing more than to fight every appointment by the Republican administration are only hurting the country and perpetuating the notion of Washington’s inefficiency and the politicization of the Supreme Court.