Speak now, then hold your peace ...

There has been a lot of back and forth on the process to replace Supreme Court justices since Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The Grand Lady herself said in 2016 after Scalia’s death that it was the job of the Senate to move forward on nominations. The Republicans, who held the majority then, chose not to vote on Obama’s nomination of Garland to replace Scalia. The end result was the same as if they had held a hearing and the Republican majority voted him down. Let’s take a look at the actual history of vacancies during election years.

There have been 29 instances of a vacancy occurring in a presidential election year since the first Supreme Court took office. Nineteen times this occurred when the presidency and the Senate majority were held by the same political party. Ten times it happened when the president was of one party and the Senate majority of a different party. 

In those 19 times where the same party was in control, 18 nominees were confirmed. The one that was not confirmed (Abe Fortas) was rejected by senators of both parties after an ethics scandal concerning the nominee broke out. In the 10 cases where the president was from an opposition party to the Senate majority, nine of those nominees were rejected or not considered, as in 2016.

In previous years, there was a filibuster rule in place in the Senate whereby the minority party could filibuster to hold up a vote for a presidential nominee. Historically, it required a super-majority of 60% to break the filibuster. In 2013, the Democrats, led by Harry Reid, changed the filibuster rule to require a simple majority to override the filibuster and proceed with the vote. The filibuster rule had prevented the majority party from running away with a vote when the majority was slim, as is the case this year. Since the Democrats changed the rule, they will now have to deal with the aftermath. 

The American people made their voice heard when they elected a Republican majority to the Senate in 2014, and again when they elected a Republican president in 2016. Those elected officials are within their rights, and indeed fulfilling their obligations to the electorate, if they move ahead with hearings on a nominee prior to the end of the year.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi has accused the president of rushing the nomination process for Ginsburg’s replacement in order to repeal the Affordable Care Act left to us by Obama and Biden. Oral arguments in the Supreme Court on a suit by several state attorneys general begin on Nov 10. The argument is that the individual mandate requiring families to purchase insurance is unconstitutional. It is generally acknowledged that Justice Ginsburg would have ruled against the states and in favor of the Obama/Biden plan. Once again, the voters selected a Republican president and a Republican Senate knowing full well where these individuals stood on Obamacare. They are simply fulfilling their campaign promises if they move forward.

Let’s look at a bit more history as it relates to the upcoming election. Last week I presented a list of facts that are verifiable through internet searches. Here are a couple of things that are quite pertinent to today’s society in the U.S. Last week, the Census Bureau released its economic report. This is considered the gold standard of measuring the financial health of American families. In Donald Trump’s first three years, real median family income for Americans rose by more than $6,400, or about $2,100 per year. In the eight years Obama and Biden were in office, the gain in income was much closer to $4,000. This is just $500 per year. That is a significant difference, especially for those living in or near the poverty range.

There are rumors that Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be appointed as Treasury secretary if Biden wins the election. Her policies, and that of Bernie Sanders, which Biden has now agreed to, include pushing an electric grid that is completely carbon-free, more personal and business taxes, and reinstituting strict financial regulations that encumber businesses. It is estimated this will lead to a loss of five million blue-collar jobs. Of course, that means more government handouts for those out of work. This in turn leads to higher deficits or higher taxes for those still employed, while the government champions itself as the savior of those families with no income.

Remember, the government doesn’t create jobs. Investors do. That means both the wealthy that start large corporations and the middle-class (most of Park County) who invest their money in stocks and 401K accounts. Taxing these segments at a higher rate is biting the hand that feeds you. It is a never-ending spiral toward economic doom. Make your voice heard this November as our country chooses a path forward.

I read an interesting interview with Christopher Scalia, son of the former Justice Antonin Scalia. He talked about the very close friendship between his father and Justice Ginsburg. They were on opposite sides of the coin in matters of law, but were able to be civil about that and socialize at the end of the day. The two justices would critique each other’s written opinions and offer advice on how to make the argument stronger, even when they didn’t agree with the argument. In the end, reasonable people of good faith will agree to disagree about important issues but still be civil and move forward. We need to move our society back in that direction, where parties argue their opinions on the floor, then accept the outcome of the vote in peace and civility, not rancor and disrespect.

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