Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is a very funny guy. Many people remember Franken as a brilliant comedian on Saturday Night Live, who was best known for his neurotic character Stewart Smalley. However, Franken took to the Senate floor recently to shame Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for their brazen, shameless cowardice and disservice to the Constitution.
McConnell and Senate Republicans made it clear just hours after former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s body went cold, that they would not “move forward” on nominating a replacement while President Obama was sill in office. In fact, that was the first statement McConnell sent via Twitter after he learned of Scalia’s death.
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) February 14, 2016
Using the American people as cover, Republicans have vowed to desert their constitutional duties, in hopes of gaining political leverage by 2017. Frankin and other Senate Democrats made it clear that they would not stand by and let the Republicans make a mockery of the constitution. Here is a partial transcript followed by the YouTube video of Frankin’s speech before the Senate.
‘It is our duty to move forward. We must fulfill our constitutional obligation to ensure that the highest court in the land has a full complement of justices.
Unfortunately, it would seem that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle do not agree—and they wasted no time in making known their objections. Less than an hour after news of Justice Scalia’s death became public, the Majority Leader announced that the Senate would not take up the business of considering a replacement until after the presidential election. Quote, “[t]he American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” he said.
The only problem with the Majority Leader’s reasoning, Mr. PRESIDENT, is that the American people have spoken. Twice. President Barack Obama was elected and reelected by a solid majority of the American people who correctly understood that elections have consequences, not the least of which is that when a vacancy occurs, the President of United States has the constitutional responsibility to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court.
The Constitution does not set a time limit on the President’s ability to fulfill this duty. Nor, by my reading, does the Constitution set a date after which the President is no longer able to fulfill his duties as Commander in Chief, or to exercise his authority to, say, grant pardons or make treaties. It merely states that the President shall hold office for a term of four years. And by my count, there are in the neighborhood of 11 months left.
If we were to truly subscribe to the Majority Leader’s logic and extend it to the legislative branch, it would yield an absurd result. Senators would become ineffective in the last year of their term. The 28 senators who are now in the midst of their reelection campaigns and the 6 senators who are stepping down should be precluded from casting votes in committee or on the Senate floor.
Ten committee chairs and 19 subcommittee chairs should pass the gavel to a colleague who is not currently running for reelection or preparing for retirement. Bill introduction, and indeed the cosponsorship of bills, should be limited to those senators who are not yet serving in the sixth year of their terms. If the Majority Leader sincerely believes that the only way to ensure that the voice of the American people is heard is to lop off the last year of an elected official’s term, I trust he will make these changes.
But I suspect he does not. Rather, it seems to me that the Majority Leader believes that the term of just one elected official in particular should be cut short. Which begs the question, M. PRESIDENT, just how short should it be cut? As I said, by my count, approximately 11 months remain in Barack Obama’s presidency. 11. Now, 11 months is a considerable amount of time.
Sizable. It has heft, to be sure, but I wouldn’t call it vast. Then again, there’s a certain arbitrariness to settling on 11 months. After all, it’s just shy of a full year. Perhaps, in order to simplify matters, an entire year would be preferable. Or maybe just six months—half a year. It’s a difficult decision, M. PRESIDENT. If only the American people had a voice in selecting precisely how much time we should shave off the President’s term.’
Not only will McConnell and Senate Republicans not vote for any nominee President Obama puts forward, regardless of qualifications, but McConnell has also made it very clear that Republicans will not even meet with the President’s nominee.
‘I don’t know how many times we need to keep saying this: The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I’ve said repeatedly and I’m now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
When asked if he would meet with President Obama’s nominee, he said:
‘I don’t know the purpose of such a visit I would not be inclined to take it myself.’
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) accidentally exposed the true nature of his party when he said:
‘I don’t see the point in going through the motions, if we know what the outcome is going to be. I don’t see the point in going through the motions and creating a misleading impression.’
Well, there you have it, folks. Senate Republicans simply don’t want to give the American people the “misleading impression” that they plan to fulfill their constitutional obligations in good faith.
Republicans are flat out refusing to do their jobs, in hopes of a political return come November. During the Iraq War, if a soldier refused to deploy during George W. Bush’s last year in office and gave that excuse, he or she would probably be in serving time in Leavenworth.
The Founding Fathers of this country would probably have had traitors like the Senate Republicans imprisoned or worse, for what they are doing to this country.
Featured Image Screengrab from YouTube