ron johnson
Press Release
October 27, 2016
Media Contact
Mike Browne, Deputy Director
(608) 444-3483
One Wisconsin Institute

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson Compares U.S. Constitution to a Contract, Then Tells Students, ‘You Rarely Read the Full Contract’

Has Johnson Unwittingly Explained Why He’s Refusing to Do His Job on Supreme Court, Federal Court Nominees?

MADISON, Wis. — It seemed harmless enough when U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson began an appearance on the UW–Madison campus by likening the U.S. Constitution to business contract. But it went horribly wrong when Johnson went on to explain that as a business guy, contracts, like the U.S. Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold, were “complicated” and that “…you rarely read the full contract.” One Wisconsin Institute Research Director Jenni Dye noted that perhaps Johnson treating the Constitution like a contract he doesn’t read explains why he’s refused to do his job as a senator and give timely hearings and votes to federal judicial nominees.

“U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson likes to boast to people about his being a business guy,” said Dye. “But a U.S. Senator who isn’t willing to read the U.S. Constitution or do his job is nothing to brag about.”

Johnson has been part of an unprecedented gambit by majority Republican senators refusing to do their jobs and obstructing the smooth operation of the Judiciary, one of the three separate and equal branches of our government established in the U.S. Constitution.

In Washington, D.C. Johnson has stood by his Republican leadership in blocking a nominee to the United States Supreme Court for purely partisan political reasons. As the court begins a new term, in a disturbing historic first, it will have a single nomination span two terms. It has been over seven months since President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Previously, a Supreme Court nominee has never had to wait longer than 125 days for a confirmation vote. Since the 1980s, every person appointed to the Supreme Court has been given a prompt hearing and vote within 100 days. In fact, 17 Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during an election year, including current Justice Kennedy, a nominee of President Reagan, who was confirmed by a Democratic Senate in 1988, a presidential election year.

Johnson has also been a central figure in saddling the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals with the longest vacancy in the nation, at over 2,500 days since the opening was announced. His dilatory tactics have prevented a confirmation vote on President Obama’s nominee to the vacancy of what is traditionally considered to be the “Wisconsin seat.”

Dye said, “Sen. Johnson might think it’s complicated, but it’s not. When it comes to what the Constitution says about the courts his job is to advise and consent on the nominations made by the President.

She concluded, “Everyone else is doing their jobs, it’s time for Sen. Johnson to do his.”

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One Wisconsin Institute is a non-partisan, progressive research and education organization dedicated to a Wisconsin with equal economic opportunity for all.