I received your response detailing why you will not consider the President’s Supreme Court nomination. Your reasons do not make sense to me.
First, you state that “…objective qualifications, character, and adherence to the rule of law matter more than ideology in evaluating judicial nominees.” A paragraph later, you claim that this judicial appointment “…is especially sensitive because it will fundamentally affect the balance of the Supreme Court…” That, however, is an ideological concern. Allowing the ideological balance of the court to influence your decision *before* even considering the qualifications and character of the nominee indicates that ideology is a stronger factor for you.
You claim that “In the final year of a presidency, it is extremely rare for vacancies that arise on the Supreme Court to be filled.” In a recent New York Times article (“Supreme Court Nominees Considered
in Election Years Are Usually Confirmed”), six out of eight election year vacancies in the 20th century were filled. And since you raise an issue with something being “extremely rare,” it is *unprecedented* for the senate to take more than 125 days to vote on a nomination. “Extremely rare,” though dubious, is one thing; UNPRECEDENTED is another. You should not be suggesting that your proposed inaction is in line with historical standards.
You suggest that “…it makes sense to give the American people a more direct say in this critical decision.” More than 65 million American voters re-elected President Obama to perform his duties for another 4 years (2016 fully included in that span). Less than six years ago, you were elected to perform the duties of the Senate for six years (2016 fully included in that span). It makes sense that the American people have used their voice. With three Supreme Court Justices scheduled to surpass US life expectancy before the 2016 election, the public was aware that their elected officials would probably be appointing a replacement. That factored into the vote. For something more recent, please look at the Monmouth University poll in which 69% of those polled want the Senate to consider the nomination. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions to persuade you to consider the nomination. The American people are talking, and they want the government to proceed with its duties.
You say that “[The Constitution] does not require the Senate to provide any particular process or follow any particular timeframe when considering considering[sic] a nominee.” True, the Constitution leaves room for the Senate to decide *how* to do its job. Making the leap to the Senate *refusing* to do its job is a new phenomenon. Though tautology, President Obama is the President. “The next president” is NOT the President. Your job is to advise and consent to the President’s Supreme Court nomination, not the nomination of “the next president.” By refusing to act on the President’s nomination, you are violating the Constitution and your oath of office.
You mentioned Vice President Joe Biden, as if his 1992 remarks support your position. In fact, Mr. Biden proposed a delay of confirmation until after the election; the plan was to consider the President’s nomination eventually. Your plan is fundamentally different, as you declare that you will not consider the current President’s nomination, only nominations “by the next president.” It is a false equivalence.
Though you claim otherwise, your position is unsupported by objective qualifications, precedent, the American people, the Constitution, or Democrats. Please consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.
[This letter was sent to Senator Toomey in March of 2016. I did not receive a response.]