Adam White on the Senate's Duty to Vote on Nominees
At the Weekly Standard, Adam J. White: The Constitution Does Not Require the Senate to Vote on a Nomination. It begins:
Senator Schumer appeared Sunday on ABC's This Week and responded to suggestions that the Senate might not confirm the lame-duck President's nomination to replace the late Justice Scalia: "show me the clause [in the Constitution] that says [the] president's only president for three years."
True, Presidents serve four-year terms. But here's a question for Senator Schumer: Can you show me the clause that says the Senate must vote on, let alone confirm, a President's nominee?
I'll save him the effort: There is no such clause in the Constitution.
And in conclusion:
Of course, Senator Schumer knows as well as anyone that the Senate is not constitutionally obligated to give judicial nominations an up-or-down vote. From the very outset of George W. Bush's presidency, Schumer was ready to block a vote on any of his Supreme Court nominations. In fact, Schumer announced in mid-2007—with a year and a half left in Bush's presidency—that he would block any further nominations Bush might make to the Court. (He added that the failure of his effort to filibuster the Alito nomination, barely a year into Bush's second term, one of his "greatest failings and regrets.")
President Obama once shared Schumer's fondness for filibustering Supreme Court nominations. But now he, like Schumer, sees things quite differently. "I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time," he said yesterday, before asserting that the Senate must "fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote."
Obama's last point repeated almost verbatim the words of his predecessor. "The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to hold an up-or-down vote on every judicial nominee," President Bush said in response to Senator Obama's and Schumer's failed filibuster, a point Bush pressed repeatedly throughout his presidency.