ron johnson
Column
March 1, 2016
Posted By
Scot Ross
Executive Director
Scot Ross

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Obstruction)

Allowing Our Courts to Become Deadlocked for Petty, Partisan Political Reasons Would Be Unprecedented and Irresponsible

What is U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s position on the Republican leadership’s call to obstruct President Obama from carrying out his Constitutional responsibility to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court?

Good question. It seems Sen. Johnson changes his answer depending on what day of the week it is and who’s asking the questions.

Immediately after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was announced, Sen. Johnson has declared President Obama should not do the job 65 million Americans empowered him to do when he was elected to a second four-year term in 2012 and nominate a replacement.

Then he declared that if the U.S. Senate refused to consider a nomination that he wouldn’t be an obstructionist because by his twisted logic, “doing nothing is an action.”

Which he followed up by saying he said he never said what he said.

And then he said that he would cast a vote, “… if it came to it.”

Most recently, based on his comments at the Wisconsin big business lobby in Madison and in right-wing talk radio interviews, Johnson’s position has reverted to all out obstructionism.

With news that a Koch brothers front group is dropping seven figures on an ad buy to try to provide cover for Sen. Johnson and the Republican obstructionism, expect the verbal contortions to continue.

Cutting through the word soup Ron Johnson has served up, it’s clear that this Tea Party darling is more concerned about pandering to the right wing and appeasing deep pocketed ideological donors than doing his job.

While his words may not provide any clarity, his history is a guide – when it comes to the federal judiciary, obstructionism is Sen. Johnson’s game and political considerations get priority over a well-functioning court.

Look no further than the Federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for evidence, where Johnson’s antics have resulted in the longest running vacancy on the appellate court in the nation. As a result, decisions in critical federal cases like on Wisconsin’s voter ID law were left deadlocked.

Just as clear as Sen. Johnson’s track record of obstructionism on judicial appointments is the language of the United States Constitution that he, as an elected official, has sworn an oath to uphold. It is the duty of the President of the United States to nominate judges to the federal courts and justices to the Supreme Court. And it is the job of Ron Johnson as a member of the Senate to give these nominations fair consideration, to “advise and consent,” not “obstruct and delay.”

Our system of government as established by our nation’s founding fathers is based on checks and balances between three separate, equal and functional branches of government. The United States Supreme Court is a critical cog in a well functioning government but the intransigence of Sen. Johnson and his fellow Republicans could prevent it from carrying out its important role in protecting our democracy.

Allowing our courts to become deadlocked for petty, partisan political reasons would be unprecedented and irresponsible. It’s time for Sen. Johnson to stop playing games and to do his job.

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Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director since 2007, has served as a senior communications director and research strategist for numerous statewide campaigns and elected officials.