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Partisanship Is Destroying the Supreme Court — Literally

In the wake of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowing to fight Trump “tooth and nail” on confirmation hearings, Vice President Joe Biden is imploring a different approach: Do your constitutional duty. Biden believes Senate Democrats should not copy the Republicans’ tactic of obstructionism and give Trump’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing and a vote.

During a Tuesday airing of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “We are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court justice.” He also said:

“If [Republicans] don’t appoint somebody good, we’re going to oppose them tooth and nail.”

Schumer even suggested that Democrats were willing to keep Scalia’s seat vacant for as long as possible.

The threat reminded many of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise in 2016 that there would not be a hearing for President Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland. Garland’s nomination was blocked longer than any other nomination in history.

Indeed, Senate Republicans notoriously made “obstructionism” a staple in the American political vernacular. According to the Chicago Tribune, so many judicial appointments languished under the Republican-controlled Senate that Trump will inherit more than 100 court vacancies.

In a PBS Newshour interview, Vice President Joe Biden said Democrats should not continue these partisan schemes, asserting that the tactic to delay the justice confirmation is “fundamentally unconstitutional.”

He continued:

“I think the Democrats should not take up what I think is a fundamentally unconstitutional notion that the Republicans initiated 10 months ago. I think they should see who they nominate and vote on them.”

Looking at the current age of the high court, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that Trump might get to make another appointment in the next 4 years. Justice Anthony Kennedy is 80 years old. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83.

Would the Democrats also fight additional nominations as well? And if Democrats retake the Oval Office in 4 years, what is to stop Republicans from doing the same thing? What will that mean for the future of the Supreme Court?

Partisanship is getting out of control on Capitol Hill, and research suggests it continues to get worse.

According to a June 2016 Pew study, a majority of both the Democratic and Republican parties experience fear, frustration, and anger toward the other party – 55% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans. Furthermore, voters highly engaged in politics are even more partisan – 70% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans.

A 2014 Pew study found that this perceived threat of the opposing party increases and maintains hyper-partisanship.

Since the election of Donald Trump, we’ve seen some spectacular promises of partisanship. Politicians and the American people alike have promised to actively resist and protest the opposing party’s appointments, ideas, and legislation with every fiber of their being.

Yet, the Vice President of the United States is trying to get members of his own party to see reason. He knows that voters didn’t vote for the obstructionism, they didn’t vote for the gridlock, they voted for a change to the status quo. They voted against the partisan political establishment.

Whether or not Senate Democrats listen to him remains to be seen, but for now it seems partisanship in Congress is here to stay, and that is not good news for the Supreme Court or the important matters the court will need to take up in the next 4 years.

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