MADISON, Wis. — Donald Trump is scheduled to announce his pick to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court this evening, despite unprecedented and unresolved issues of a hostile, foreign power’s interference in the 2016 election, litigation over his compliance with the Constitution, questions about his commitment to abiding by its provisions, and an unprecedented partisan power grab that has held the seat on the high court one for nearly one year.
Joining Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Institute, a member of the national Why Courts Matter coalition, in discussing what is at stake with a Supreme Court nominee and calling on elected officials to stand up to Trump and stand up for our Constitution were State Sen. Lena Taylor, State Representatives JoCasta Zamarripa and Mark Spreitzer and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Director of Government Relations & Legal Advocacy, Nicole Safar.
“The questions surrounding Donald Trump and his compliance with and commitment to following the United States Constitution are serious and unresolved,” commented Ross. “To allow him to now attempt to fill a lifetime appointment to a seat on our nation’s highest court that was literally stolen is entirely unacceptable.”
The continuing vacancy on the nation’s high court is a result of the death of Antonin Scalia nearly one year ago. Senate Republicans refused to do their duty under the Constitution and did not give a hearing or vote on the nomination submitted by President Barack Obama weeks after Scalia’s passing, with nearly a full year left in his term.
According to Ross, the Monday night firing of the acting U.S. Attorney General for refusing to order the Department of Justice to defend a Muslim ban executive order before determining its constitutionality further exposes Trump. He has shown himself to be determined to consolidate executive power in his office alone and intends to apply litmus tests to those who surround him.
Myriad other issues remain unresolved and cast a pall over Trump’s announced intention to forward a high court nominee for consideration. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has announced that it will conduct an inquiry into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election with the intent of helping elect Donald Trump. Intelligence agencies have publicly released information that shows Russians directed hacking and coordinated the release of damaging information with the intent of influencing the outcome of the election.
Trump is also the subject of litigation alleging he has run afoul of provisions of the U.S. Constitution. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court claiming he is potentially receiving money from foreign governments through his business interests. If true, Trump would be in violation of the emoluments clause that prohibits such transactions. Despite this cloud over him, he has failed to fully separate himself from his and his family’s business interests and refuses to release his tax returns to determine if he has financial ties to foreign governments.
Ross noted that federal courts are critically important to protecting issues of protecting voting rights and participation in the political process; ensuring equal treatment for all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation; protecting access to comprehensive health care; and providing a check and balance on the powers of Congress and the President. A lifetime appointment to the court will shape how cases are decided and rights are protected, or lost, for decades.
He concluded, “Our elected officials and top ranking public servants don’t pledge their fealty to a president, they swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Now is the time to put patriotism before party and demand that the American people get straight answers to the serious questions surrounding Donald Trump and resolve that a radical, out of step judge will not be given a lifetime appointment to a stolen seat on our United States Supreme Court.”