The leadership in the United States Senate has indicated that it will block any vote on filling the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy — a move that makes it clear that our elected officials are more concerned about delaying justice than delivering justice to the people they claim to represent.
This is a moment in our nation’s history that exposes the true values of our senators — specifically, whether partisanship is more important to them than public service. Supreme Court decisions impact every aspect of our lives: the ability to access affordable health care and voting rights, equal opportunity in education and the workplace, and the ability to exercise religious freedom — all of which are on the docket this term.
Earlier this month, 400 members of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) participated in a silent procession from the Supreme Court to the Capitol. We carried copies of the U.S. Constitution that we then delivered to Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), urging him to fulfill his constitutional obligation to hold hearings and a vote on the president’s nominee. We know that a full Supreme Court — and a judicial system that works as our founders designed — is imperative to our democracy, and should not be delayed for political gain. Delaying the filling of this vacancy is paramount to delaying justice for millions of people.
Across the country, concerned citizens are mobilizing to ensure that the president’s nominee gets a timely and fair hearing and a vote in the US Senate. We at NCJW have long supported a federal judiciary that holds fast to constitutional values and we are leading the mobilization of the Jewish community as part of state-based coalitions advocating for the Senate to do its job.
The Supreme Court vacancy creates confusion and ambiguity in our judicial system — and can even lead to people being held to different interpretations of federal laws, depending upon where they live.
We all go to work every day and do our jobs as business leaders, doctors, architects, librarians, lawyers, teachers, parents, and volunteers. We deserve senators who will do the same.
Now that the president has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must do its job and hold hearings on the nominee. In fact, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll, a majority of Americans believe the Senate should hold a vote on President Obama’s nominee. Further, most Americans — seven in 10 of the total population, and a majority of Republicans — believe that the refusal to hold hearings on Judge Garland is driven by political reasons and is not in the best interests of the country.
The Senate has the opportunity to consider the implications of leaving this seat vacant, and to demonstrate that it cares about what this obstruction means to the lives of their constituents. We urge them to take this course rather than continue what has amounted to elaborate political posturing, which is so obviously transparent and wrong.
As a people committed to the rule of law, a strong democracy, and a fair and responsible judiciary, I hope that Jews around the country will join NCJW in calling their senators and contacting members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fulfill their constitutional duty and work with the president to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
For our senators to do anything less is a betrayal of the oath they took to uphold the Constitution. It is a Constitution that we, as Jews, proudly defend and which has served to protect our rights as a minority religious group in America.
Nancy K. Kaufman is the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.