Unfitness Is Contagious: Supreme Court Nominees and Impeachment
As this election season comes to a close, I have discovered that Donald Trump’s lack of fitness to be President isn’t unique. Unfitness appears to be contagious. Senate and House candidates are taking stands that endanger the functioning of government and show an eagerness to create a constitutional crisis.
Here in North Carolina, Senator Richard Burr has stated that he will block all Supreme Court nominees if Secretary Clinton becomes President. Senator Burr knows what he is talking about. In 2009 he single-handedly put a hold on the nomination of a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The hold is still in effect. Now Senator Burr is joining other senators in suggesting that seats on the Supreme Court should remain vacant unless a Republican is President. Although, I disagreed with some of Senator Burr’s policies, I’d originally believed he was a conservative/business Republican fully capable of representing North Carolina and discharging the duties of a Senator. I was wrong.
In Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has called for the impeachment of Secretary Clinton if she becomes President on the grounds that she used a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. Senator Johnson isn’t the only Congressional representative paving the way for impeachment proceedings against the Democratic nominee for President. Senator Johnson’s pronouncement is even more destructive to the proper functioning of Government than Senator Mitch McConnell’s comments about President Obama: “When I first came into office (as majority leader), my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president.”
By refusing to consider Supreme Court appointments or threatening impeachment our Congressional leaders are creating unresolvable constitutional crises. In most instances when Congress or the Executive oversteps its constitutional bounds, the Supreme Court can ultimately resolve the matter. However, when it comes to court appointments or impeachment, there is probably no judicial solution. I don’t think the Supreme Court would intercede to require the Senate to consider Supreme Court nominees or tell Congress when and how to conduct impeachments. These are likely “political” questions. The Constitution contains a great number of checks and balances, but our founders couldn’t envision every situation where one branch of government might unilaterally undermine our democracy.
The only remedy is to defeat those candidates who advocate positions that destroy the constitutional operation of our government. It doesn’t matter if Senator Burr or Senator Johnson are Republicans or Democrats, liberal or conservative. They are unfit to discharge the duties of a United States Senator.