In his March 17 Washington Forum essay, “ End the war on judicial nominations ,” James Robertson said one of the main reasons Democrats oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a “tit for tat” response to the Senate’s failure to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination. But Mr. Robertson failed to acknowledge that the Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), abrogated its advise-and-consent duty as set out in the Constitution. Mr. McConnell’s excuse for doing so was that President Barack Obama was in the last year of his presidency and did not have a mandate. Yet more than 300 days elapsed between the time of Mr. Garland’s nomination and the end of Mr. Obama’s term.
In refusing to consider Mr. Garland’s nomination, Mr. McConnell defined a president’s term in office as being three years when it comes to judicial appointments. These very serious constitutional issues go far beyond squabbles between Democrats and Republicans, the Hatfields and McCoys or the Jets and Sharks.
The Senate will consider the nomination of Mr. Gorsuch. Democrats can filibuster, and Mr. McConnell can choose to apply the “nuclear option.” These are not extraconstitutional actions. Nevertheless, Americans must send Mr. McConnell a message that his actions regarding the nomination of Mr. Garland were not acceptable. The best way of doing so is at the ballot box in 2018.
John DesMarteau, Washington
Yes, elections have consequences, as James Robertson pointed out in his March 17 commentary. And Barack Obama was reelected president in 2012. An opening on the Supreme Court occurred during his term of office, but his nominee not only was not confirmed, he wasn’t even given a hearing by the Senate. And it wasn’t because “we had the votes and you didn’t.” There was no voting involved. It was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) inexcusable, un-American and supremely undemocratic decision, and his alone, that Merrick Garland would not sit on the Supreme Court. Any war over judicial nominations can be laid at his feet.
Herb Savage, Accokeek