Democracy Initiative Responds to Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Unexpected passing ignites U.S. Senate battle over President Obama’s anticipated SCOTUS nominee in election year
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Washington, DC – Following the unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Democracy Initiative issued the following statement:

“The President joined the nation in mourning the loss and honoring the life of Justice Antonin Scalia, a dedicated public servant and advocate for the ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The President was clear that he intends to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia. He also called on the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give the nominee a fair hearing and timely vote.  

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley has indicated his willingness to use the process to stop any nominee, announcing, ‘…it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.’  What he proposes is an unprecedented dereliction of his responsibility. Each Senator when sworn in takes an oath to ‘support and defend’ the U.S. Constitution that clearly states the Senate should provide ‘advice and consent,’ not ‘refuse to consider.’

“The American people expect and deserve a Senate that will do its job. Since 2010, the Democracy Initiative’s Fix the Senate Now campaign has focused on Senate reforms, such as those made in November 2013, which help to restore the Senate to its traditions as a deliberative body where qualified nominees can receive up-or-down votes. Ensuring that qualified nominees can be judged on their merits and can receive a full and fair hearing and vote should not be a contentious or partisan issue. The U.S. constitution clearly outlines the procedure for replacing a Supreme Court Justice and the roles of the president and Senate. Preemptively disavowing constitutional procedure for political objections undermines the integrity of our democracy.

“This April 17th and 18th in Washington, DC, the Democracy Initiative will be joined by more than 150  civil rights, labor, and environmental organizations along with thousands of activists and advocates, some participating in nonviolent direct action as part of Democracy Awakening and the Congress of Conscience to demand a democracy that works for all Americans. 

“The institutions of our government need to function regardless of who has power – it is bigger than party or politics. That is why this spring, when thousands of Americans come to Washington to demand reform, we will call for the Senate, the nation’s highest deliberative body, to act as the founders intended.” 

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a network of 60 civil rights, environmental, and labor organizations formed to restore the core principles of democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 35 million members nationwide.