Director of Communications and External Affairs
WASHINGTON, D.C. –“The U.S. Supreme Court, the head of one of our core branches of government, is entrusted with the grave responsibility of resolving some of the most important legal controversies in our nation,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “To operate effectively and properly for the duration of the two terms that remain in 2016 and beyond, the President must move swiftly to carry out his constitutional obligation to identify a nominee who will serve as a fair and impartial jurist. In addition, the Senate must be prepared to move expeditiously in carrying forward a confirmation process. The Supreme Court occupies an important place in American democracy and its stature should not be tainted by political gamesmanship and partisan wrangling.”
Following reports of Justice Scalia’s untimely death, some commentators have suggested that President Obama should abandon his constitutional obligation to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, leaving the decision to the next President who will take office on January 20, 2017 – almost one year from today. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his opposition, asserting that “[t]he American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” However, history has made plain the fact that sitting Presidents are tasked with the constitutional responsibility to make nominations. Indeed, six Supreme Court Justices have been confirmed in presidential election years, including Justice Kennedy who was named by former President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by Congress in February 1988.
The Lawyers’ Committee urges bi-partisanship at this important moment to help preserve the integrity and operability of the U.S. Supreme Court.
About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.