Last night, in a speech he hoped to set up like a final episode of The Apprentice or The Bachelor, Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch, whose views mirror those of the late Antonin Scalia, is nominated for the seat that Merrick Garland should have filled many months ago.
Cries of constitutional obstruction and malpractice should not be limited to religious tests and immigration bans alone. Lest we forget, Republicans in the Senate didn’t even let Merrick Garland hold a hearing for his confirmation, let alone take a vote on it. This disregard for our core governing document was unconscionable. But it was not an isolated incident.
I feel that one of the reasons we’ve gotten ourselves into the mess as a country is a lack of civics education, engagement and attention to our Constitution. Granted, everyone has a different interpretation of this document. But can we honestly say that drone strikes en masse are constitutional? Or any other unilateral military actions? What about limiting abortion access? Voter ID laws?
My point is this: Yes it is alarming when the pipe bursts and a category five violation rolls through town like what happened with last night’s announcement. But that pipe has been dripping for years on both sides of the aisle. I’m not going to falsely equivocate and say that both sides are the same, that would be intellectually lazy and it would ignore the fact that most of these draconian ideas and actions come from right-wing policy makers. But to ignore them when they are alive and well in your own camp is unacceptable.
In light of this announcement and in honor of the beginning of Black History Month, it would be great to take a minute to read about Thurgood Marshall today. Besides being the first black Supreme Court Justice, he was a groundbreaking attorney for the NAACP and delivered legal victories against segregation in the state of Maryland. One of my favorite opinions that he wrote was his decision in Gillette v. United States, where he and seven other Supreme Court Justices, upheld the rights of conscientious objectors to sit out the draft.
To further honor black history month, and honor our aspiring black lawyers and judges, I hope you all will consider making a donation to a scholarship fund at Howard University School of Law, where Marshall got his Juris Doctor and where our future lawyers and judges will be defending the Constitution from people like Trump.