By Vanessa Glushefski
It’s summertime in the city, and I am so done with this election cycle. Everywhere I turn I see Donald Trump’s round face on my Facebook feed, Twitter feed and even random TV screens as I go about my day.
Do you want to know what I think is more newsworthy than Donald Trump’s latest tweet? Well, a million other things, but at the top of my list is the Supreme Court vacancy, as well as the hundred or so other federal district court vacancies plaguing our nation.
The United States Senate has a job to do. Actually, it has two. The Constitution requires that the Senate give its advice and consent as to federal judicial nominations. By failing to do either, the Senate, in essence, is infringing on the president’s Article II power to nominate candidates and, more importantly, the Judiciary’s Article III power to adjudicate cases and controversies.
Frankly, that is unacceptable.
President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court months ago. The Senate has refused to even hold hearings on the nomination, much less a vote. That leaves the Supreme Court with eight members for the foreseeable future.
The federal courts are the arenas in which gladiator-like attorneys battle for competing rights and where the fate of our nation is decided.
Who can sue when there is a wrong to be righted? Can the government listen to your private phone calls and collect sensitive metadata? What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment? These are all gravely important questions that need to be answered, and that’s just a handful of them.
To be sure, our judicial system is not perfect. However, we must not commit the folly of taking it for granted.
The judiciary maintains a balance. That balance is the difference between a thriving democracy and despotism, between thoughtful leadership and arbitrary whims, between freedom and enslavement.
Without an adequately staffed judiciary, the balance contemplated in our Constitution comes under attack and puts our nation at risk, which is something we, the people, cannot and should not stand for.
As such, it is not enough to let oneself be distracted by the 2016 election cycle circus. Instead, we must call for action. So, tell your senator, respectfully, or not (this is America after all), to do his or her job.
Vanessa Glushefski, CPA, is an attorney practicing in Buffalo. She is also the vice co-chairman of the American Constitution Society, Western New York Lawyer Chapter.