Elections Have Consequences

The Madison St. Clair Record

Tad Armstrong

Soon after President Obama’s  inauguration in January of 2009, he told a group of congressional Republicans that “elections have consequences…I won.”

My, oh my, such arrogance in a president. So unpresidential. A diplomat that truly believed in unifying our nation would not start his tenure with such hubris, right? But, progressive hypocrisy and presidential diplomacy aside, he was absolutely correct. Elections do have consequences for the winners as well as the losers, as they should. If you gain nothing by winning, why run for office? Why pay any attention to the desires of voters wishing to move the nation in the direction of the candidates they choose if elections do not have consequences? Just makes common sense.

The national Democrat leadership does not believe Americans have any common sense. They believe Americans are either ignorant of the truth or stupid or both. What is worse is their utter lack of shame in displaying such contempt. They know the truth, but they count on their assumption that voters do not have a brain. Examples are not hard to come by, but the Merrick Garland no-hearing-no-vote criticism of the Republican-led Senate is one of my favorites.

As the Obama reign was winding down in 2016, it was his absolute right to nominate anyone he wished to replace the Supreme Court seat left open in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. And, I do mean anyone, for the Constitution does not require any qualifications to be so nominated. He nominated Merrick Garland…good for him…elections have consequences.

But, elections of U.S. Senators also have consequences, for the Constitution provides that no Supreme Court nominee gets a fitting for a robe unless he or she also wins the approval of a majority of the Senate. The Constitution does not require a hearing before a vote is taken in the Senate to either confirm or reject such a nomination. We have them, but they are not required. The Constitution does not even require a vote to be taken at all. The Republican-led Senate knew the judicial philosophy of Judge Garland (then Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. District) and knew there would never be enough votes in the Senate to confirm his nomination. Having a hearing at great cost in time and expense under those circumstances makes about as much sense as the House voting to impeach a president knowing they would never convince 2/3 of the Senate to convict.

In fact, the Republicans in the Senate did Judge Garland a favor. They did not put him through a hearing only to reject him in the end. Had they called for a hearing, it would not have taken on the scorched-earth flavor the Democrats took in the Kavanaugh fiasco; nevertheless, it would have been rigorous…and all for absolutely nothing. For, you see, elections of Senators also have consequences.

The Republicans followed the Constitution to a T and if a Republican president’s nominee is ever treated the same by a Democrat-led Senate, you won’t hear me criticizing them. Elections have consequences and there isn’t anyone on the planet that would believe the Democrats would act any differently today if the shoe were on the other foot.

So, in the perfect storm that 2020 has become, we find ourselves in a Supreme Court crisis, not a Constitutional crisis, for President Trump has every right (in fact, I would argue he has the duty) to nominate someone to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ginsburg’s demise. Why? Because elections have consequences. The American people constitutionally elected him to do a job. They knew there might be several vacancies on the High Court and they trusted him and the Republican-led Senate to fill them.

I don’t label Supreme Court Justices as liberals or conservatives or as Democrats or Republicans. Rather, for me, they either live up to their responsibilities as Oath-Takers or they become consumed with a desire to set policy for the nation by legislating from the bench, thereby making them Oath-Breakers.

After confirmation and before clocking in for their first day on the job, all justices must take an Article VI oath to “support” the Constitution. Oath is defined as a solemn promise regarding one’s future action or behavior and most dictionaries raise that promise to the level of a sacred responsibility. For an originalist (Scalia and Barrett), fulfilling that oath requires an adherence to the plain meaning of the words of the Constitution and, where such words do not resolve the question, that then requires an honest effort to determine the intent of those who framed the Constitution or its amendments. Anything short of that is considered by Oath-Takers to be not only a betrayal of their Oath, but a betrayal of the American people. By contrast, Oath-Breakers believe they have a solemn obligation to do what they think is best for the American people, regardless of the limits placed upon them by the very Constitution they swear to “support.”

In my world, Justice Ginsburg was an Oath-Breaker and a major reason why the make-up of the Court has become purely political. Mark my words. It will be decades before any vacant seats on the High Court will be filled during any president’s administration when his or her party does not control the Senate.

Some have called for Kamala Harris to recuse herself from participating in the Barrett confirmation hearing on some cockamamie theory that her vice-presidential run makes her somehow ineligible to cross-examine Judge Barrett. I disagree for the same reason the president is right to proceed. It’s her job. Plus, where is the wisdom in such a request? I would much prefer that this V-P candidate – especially this V-P candidate – show her true colors by the expected inhumane manner in which she attempts to take down Judge Barrett and her family. Bring it on, Kamala. I can’t wait. You are going to lose. Elections have consequences. Keep the issues of what body has the power of impeachment (the House), what body has the power to convict or acquit in an impeachment trial (the Senate), what body has the power to confirm or reject a judicial nominee (the Senate) and who has the only right to nominate someone for a robe (the President) when you VOTE!

Tad Armstrong is an Edwardsville (Illinois) lawyer, founder of ELL Constitution Clubs

(www.ellconstitutionclubs.com), frequent talk show guest, op-ed writer and author of two books on the Constitution: “It’s OK to Say ‘God”‘ and “ONE.” He can be reached at (618) 656-6770.

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