President Obama hosted a press conference at the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in California yesterday, which comes against a backdrop in which the future of the Supreme Court is dominating much of the domestic political conversation. The president is obviously aware of Senate Republicans’ plans for a total blockade against nominee, regardless of merit, so Obama took some time to remind GOP lawmakers about the constitutional process.
“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. When there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the President of the United States is to nominate someone. The Senate is to consider that nomination, and either they disapprove of that nominee or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court.“Historically, this has not been viewed as a question. There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years – that’s not in the constitutional text. I’m amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there. There is more than enough time for the Senate to consider in a thoughtful way the record of a nominee that I present and to make a decision.”
Unfortunately for the right, all of this has the benefit of being true. The Constitution has established a process; Obama intends to follow the process; and there’s plenty of time for senators to do their jobs. It’s all surprisingly simple, and to date, Republicans haven’t come up with any coherent defense for rejecting any White House nominee, sight unseen.
Reflecting on the broader political circumstances surrounding judicial nominees, the president added, “The fact that it’s that hard, that we’re even discussing this, is I think a measure of how, unfortunately, the venom and rancor in Washington has prevented us from getting basic work done. This would be a good moment for us to rise above that.”
You can almost hear GOP senators laughing at a distance.
Looking ahead, the president reminding Republican lawmakers, “This is the Supreme Court. The highest court in the land. It’s the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics. And this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job. Your job doesn’t stop until you’re voted out or until your term expires. I intend to do my job between now and January 20th of 2017. I expect them to do their job as well.”
Of course, the high court vacancy isn’t the only subject on the political world’s mind. There’s also the matter of the election to choose President Obama’s successor.
As NBC News reported, Obama has taken note of the Republican frontrunner.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday reiterated that he doesn’t believe New York businessman Donald Trump will ever be president, saying the American people realize the highest office in the nation “is not a reality show.”“I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president,” Obama said…. “And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognize that being president is a serious job.”“It’s not hosting a talk show or a reality show. It’s not promotion, it’s not marketing. It’s hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right.”
My suspicion is the leading Republican candidate and his team were delighted to hear this – with just a few days remaining before the South Carolina primary, Obama criticizing Trump is probably the best thing Trump can hope for.