The purpose of the Supreme Court is to uphold the law, not to rule according to party lines.But as Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito approaches confirmation, it becomes increasingly clear that partisan politics are at play.
The Associated Press reports that, “If the pattern continues, Alito may be on his way to the most partisan Senate victory for a Supreme Court nominee in years.”
Many Republicans champion Alito for his conservative views, especially involving abortion, hoping that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
Democrats are worried for similar reasons.
Presidents have long sought to appoint justices that uphold their ideals. And that is justified – presidents were given the executive power to appoint judges as a check on the Supreme Court.
But the Senate holds yet another check – confirming or rejecting Justices.
Frequently, judges are chosen by a substantial majority from both parties. In fact, only one justice in the past 30 years has been confirmed with a close vote: Clarence Thomas, confirmed in 1991 with a 52-48 vote. In most cases, only a handful of Senators voted “nay.”
Judges should be confirmed with a substantial majority. If only one party is in favor of a judge, the president needs to take a close look at him or her and re-examine his decision. A judge is working for both parties and all people and should be above such partisan distinctions.
But when the president’s political party holds a majority, this is not a necessity.
Partisan politics leave important people out of the mix – those who do not follow the party line. The two-party system leaves little room for voices outside the ordinary. They lead to Supreme Court justices that are confirmed by just one party.
Texans understand the limitations of the two-party system. After all, there has not been an Independent governor in 147 years, since the days of Sam Houston.
Opinion editor Stephanie Weaver for the editorial board