Dear Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
One of the most harmful political trends of the past 30 years or so has been perpetual campaigning. Instead of winning elections and then going to work doing the jobs the people elected them to do, politicians across the spectrum are campaigning endlessly and are neglecting their obligations as public servants. Rather than considering what’s best for the country, every decision is made according to whether it will bring in campaign contributions and win votes for re-election.
As you know, there is a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. President Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Scalia. Yet the Senate, under the direction of the leaders of your party, is shirking its responsibility to confirm this nominee. Senator McConnell says “the people should have a voice” in filling this vacancy. The people had a voice in 2012 when they elected Barack Obama to be President until January 20, 2017. Senator McConnell’s claim that there is a “longstanding tradition” of not considering nominees during election years is simply not true.
The American people need and deserve a fully staffed Supreme Court. If the Senate refuses to consider any nominee until after the inauguration of the next President, it is almost certain we will have the longest vacancy since the Civil War. This is inexcusable.
Merrick Garland would not have been my choice to replace Justice Scalia, but he is imminently qualified, and was held up by members of your own party as the kind of judge President Obama should nominate. The Senate should immediately hold hearings, and unless these hearings turn up some unknown evidence that would disqualify him, vote to confirm Judge Garland to the United States Supreme Court.
Senators, some things are simply more important than scoring political points for your party. Do the job the people of Texas elected you to do and that the American people pay you to do. Stop your perpetual campaign long enough to actually govern.
If one or both of your Senators is refusing to hold confirmation hearings, please write to them and politely insist they do their damn jobs. Remember that an actual letter carries more weight than an e-mail, and a personal letter carries far more weight than a form letter.
A directory of Senators and their contact information can be found on the United States Senate website.
I’m not thrilled with the appointment of Merrick Garland. I would have preferred a more consistently progressive judge. I would have preferred someone who’s younger (and thus would be a reliable progressive voice for decades) and someone who would expand the diversity of the court. And for the sake of all the Gods, could we please get someone on the Supreme Court who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale? Diversity means more than gender and ethnicity.
While I imagine Merrick Garland’s opinions would be closer to Anthony Kennedy than to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, he is well qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. And I can’t overstate the importance of the first paragraph of this letter: perpetual campaigning has resulted in the dysfunctional government that has angered and frustrated people to the point that they’re voting for Donald Trump for President.
There are elements of my job I don’t particularly like, but I do them because I have an obligation to do what I’m being paid to do. Senators have an obligation to hold hearings and confirm a new justice. They need to do their damn job.