Yesterday, Senator Pat Toomey became one of the last Republicans to state his belief that the next President, and not President Barack Obama, should get to appoint Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
Toomey’s full statement is presented below:
“I have long stated my belief that objective qualifications and adherence to the rule of law should matter more than ideology when it comes to judicial appointments. I have acted accordingly, working closely with Senator Bob Casey on filling 16 vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania and supporting numerous appointments by President Obama, including his appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
“The current vacancy on the Supreme Court, following the tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia, however, presents an unusual context. In the final year of a presidency, it is common for vacancies that arise on the Supreme Court to await the outcome of the next election. Given that we are already well into the presidential election process and that the Supreme Court appointment is for a lifetime, it makes sense to give the American people a more direct say in this critical decision. The next Court appointment should be made by the newly-elected president. If that new president is not a member of my party, I will take the same objective non-partisan approach to that nominee as I have always done.
“President Obama insists that he will nominate someone for the Court. He certainly has the authority to do so. But let’s be clear – his nominee will be rejected by the Senate. In addition to the normally high level of scrutiny accorded to a Supreme Court nominee, this nominee would have to pass an additional level of scrutiny, which is the question of whether he or she ought to receive a lifetime appointment this year, when one could be made with a broad public stamp of approval less than a year later. That is a standard no nominee is likely to be able to meet.
“It has been less than 72 hours since Justice Scalia’s passing. There has already been too much politicking around the issue of his replacement. This decision should not be rushed, and it should not be made amid the clamoring of a presidential election season. We should honor Justice Scalia’s legacy, and we should put off a decision on his replacement until the newly-elected president can make his or her choice.”
Before Toomey had made his feelings clear, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman sought to put the junior Senator on the spot.
“Sen. Pat Toomey, who do you work for: the citizens of Pennsylvania or Ted Cruz and other extreme GOP obstructionists?,” Fetterman stated. “The self-serving negligence we are seeing from the GOP is the reason why everyone hates Congress, and is simply disrespectful to the American people. So which is it, Sen. Toomey: will you do your job, or choose partisanship over patriotism?”
Meanwhile, former Chief of Staff to Governor Wolf Katie McGinty slammed Toomey for “doubling down on obstructionism”.
“Toomey’s partisan decision makes it clear he wants a Supreme Court that would take away a woman’s right to choose, continue an assault on women’s health care, attack and destroy health care reform and continue to allow dark money in politics,” McGinty said. “We need a Senator who does the job for us, not partisan Washington insiders.”
Finally, former Congressman Joe Sestak made his case for not allowing the seat to remain vacant for at least a year.
“William Penn said that ‘To delay Justice is Injustice.’ It is time for Pat Toomey to fulfill his duty to the people of Pennsylvania and vow to quickly consider a new Supreme Court Justice rather than marching lockstep with partisan obstructionists in Washington, D.C.”
“With so many pressing issues before the Court like the Voting Rights Act, protecting women’s right to choose, reversing Citizens’ United and affirming the need to regulate polluters, the Senate must act swiftly to consider President Obama’s eventual nominee to the court,” Sestak continued.
“I also firmly believe that nominating a justice with a legal education outside the Ivy League – which no present Justice has – will bring a voice to the Court in tune with the diversity of experiences of the American people and give them all a stronger voice on the Court,” he added.
“Finally, I hope that Justice Scalia’s replacement will follow the model he set for maintaining positive, working relationships with his colleagues despite deep philosophical differences – which is all too lacking in both parties in Washington, D.C.”