Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General, is no stranger to Senate stalling of Presidential appointees, having been part of the George W. Bush administration during those latter days of fighting with a Democrat-run Senate. So we’d better listen when he speaks out on whose duty it is to act on a Supreme Court vacancy, speaking on the matter of the vacancy left by the unfortunate death of Antonin Scalia.
Here’s a key part of the transcript from his television appearance:
I know there’s a big debate going on right now about whether or not Obama should nominate someone. From my perspective having worked at the White House and the Dept. of Justice, there’s just no question in my mind that as president of the United States, you have an obligation to fill a vacancy. I suspect President Obama is going to do his job. And after he does his job and nominating a hopefully qualified individual, the Senate will do its job eventually on its own calendar.
The bottom line from my perspective, is the president has to do his job in nominating a qualified individual and then the Senate does it’s job in assessing whether or not this person is qualified for a lifetime appointment on the court based upon experience, based upon ideology, and based upon integrity.
Got it? “Eventually on its own calendar” is when the Senate will act to confirm the nominee if the nominee is qualified “based upon experience, based upon ideology, and based upon integrity.”
I suspect some are going to try to spin the Attorney General’s words to apply pressure to the Senate, but the opposite is true. He’s fully acknowledging the Senate can do whatever it pleases. Because the Constitution does not require the Senate to consent. It requires the President to get the Senate’s consent. And that is a world of difference.
Here’s the video: