Justice appointment discussion reaches state House

Xavier Smith • Mar 16, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Discussion regarding the preferred action on the future appointment of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice reached the Tennessee House on Thursday.

The House approved a resolution introduced by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, that thanks U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker for their position to not move forward on a nomination to the Supreme Court by the current presidential administration.

Local representatives Mark Pody and Susan Lynn voted in favor of the resolution.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last month, which has created debate on President Barack Obama’s role in appointing a replacement, with some stating the appointment should be the responsibility of the next president.

“The purpose of the resolution is to first and foremost honor the life of Justice Antonin Scalia. That is the original purpose of this resolution,” said Holt, who added the resolution would support the state’s two U.S. senators refrainment from a confirmation of a new justice during the current administration.

“I, along with several other who are in this chamber, believe we should allow the next administration to make this appointment. As much concern as I’ve heard about circumventing the U.S. Constitution through this process, it is just as much an opportunity for these U.S Senators to refrain from confirming as it is for the President to make an appointment for confirmation,” he said.

Others felt the resolution was unnecessary, unimportant and against the Constitution.

“If I’m correct, didn’t Justice Scalia agree that there should be a prompt, urgent and immediate replacement for Supreme Court vacancies? He would’ve been in opposition of what we’re congratulating the senators for,” said G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. “So, I’m trying to figure out how we’re honoring him by congratulating the senators to do something in opposition of what he has been on record in supporting.”

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, echoed Hardaway’s feelings, stating the resolution would congratulate the two for not doing their job.

“They can vote against an appointment. What I don’t think we should be doing, today, is congratulating them for sitting on their hands and not doing their job, because what the public is telling us in this current electoral cycle is they’re very disappointed when people placing this sort of obstructionism in front of actually getting things done. I think this goes completely down the wrong road,” Stewart said.

William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, said he believed the U.S. Senate should wait until the right replacement emerges.

“They should vet any candidate that is going to be added to the U.S. Supreme Court. I would remind members that jus a few shot weeks ago, in a bipartisan fashion, a Tennessee Supreme Court justice that went through committee, that went through this body and we put a very good justice on the bench. That’s all this resolution says,” Lamberth said.

“The moment this president can find another Scalia to appoint to the bench, I can almost guarantee you that appointment will sail through the U.S. Senate. But, until he finds another good man, like Scalia, who will interpret the Constitution as written then I think they should wait until that person is found.”

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