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Republican senators’ duty of a fair hearing on President Obama’s high court nominee

Republican Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate majority leader, didn’t even wait a day after announcement of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s unfortunate passing to reject President Obama’s constitutional duty to name a replacement on the nation’s highest court. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice,” Senator McConnell said on Saturday. Senator McConnell and the Republican presidential candidates—two of them U.S. senators—want the next president to choose a replacement for Justice Scalia, hoping the president sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017 will be a Republican. But didn’t the American people already have a voice in selecting Supreme Court justices when they re-elected President Obama by five million votes in the 2012 election, as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out on Sunday?

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says it is President Obama's duty to nominate members of the high court, and it is the duty of the Senate to approve or disapprove of the president’s nominations. The Constitution doesn’t say, “except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic president,” Senator Warren noted.

At stake is more than a debate over constitutional law. Critical cases that are already before the Supreme Court may not be able to be decided if we have to wait a year until another justice can take office. One appeal the justices are scheduled to hear soon is on a case brought by Republican politicians attempting to block President Obama’s executive order that would protect from deportation about five million undocumented immigrants in this country, including hundreds of thousands of farm workers. We still need to receive at least 5 of the Supreme court Justice's votes in order for DAPA and expanded DACA proceed.

President Obama said he will nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. It is the duty of Senator McConnell and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to give that nominee a fair hearing and to vote on the nomination.

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President
United Farm Workers of America