Washington, D.C. - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid delivered the following remarks today urging President Bush to consult before nominating the next Supreme Court Justice in case of vacancy.
“The Constitution provides that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” judges and other officers of the United States.
“Today, the Democratic Caucus has sent a letter to the President calling on him to take that word – “Advice” – seriously should any Supreme Court Justice choose to retire.
“Our goal is to encourage the President to arrive at a consensus choice for the Court, a nominee like Sandra Day O’Connor who will bring the country together, not tear it apart.
“Meaningful consultation with the Senate will ensure judges who are fair and independent and who are committed to protecting individual rights and freedoms.
“Meaningful consultation with the Senate will ensure that the president’s judicial nominees are highly qualified men and women whose views are within the broad constitutional mainstream.
“And meaningful consultation with the Senate will help us avoid a divisive episode like we saw over the nuclear option. There are too many important issues facing this country to waste the Senate’s time fighting over radical extremist judges.
“There is a long tradition of Presidents consulting with the Senate before a nomination occurs.
“In 1869, President Grant appointed Edwin Stanton to the Supreme Court in response to a petition from Senators and House members.
“In 1932, President Hoover shared with Senator William Borah a list of the candidates he was considering to replace Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Borah persuaded Hoover to move the name that was on the bottom of the list to the top. That candidate, Benjamin Cardozo, was confirmed unanimously.
“In his autobiography, Senator Orrin Hatch takes credit for convincing President Clinton not to send the Senate potentially controversial nominees and instead to nominate individuals with broad bipartisan support. Both of President Clinton’s nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, were easily confirmed with Senator Hatch’s support.
“The Supreme Court is of paramount importance in the life of the Nation. The judiciary is the third of three co-equal branches of the federal government. And the Supreme Court confronts complex legal issues that affect the lives of all Americans.
“I’ve often said I know how to dance and I know how to fight. When it comes to choosing a Justice of the Supreme Court, let’s not fight, let’s dance. The rights of all Americans are at stake.”