Constitution calls for ‘advice and consent’

To the Editor:

As someone who served in local government, I know that it’s possible to have disagreements without abandoning the rule book. I think I speak for many Republicans in New Hampshire and around the country who want our party to bring civility and Constitutional deference back to Washington this November.

In part, that means respecting the longstanding processes that allow our government to function. The Constitution calls on the Senate to offer their "advice and consent" to Supreme Court nominees. Instead, members of my own party, including a senator for whom I have the greatest respect, Kelly Ayotte, are playing a political game, in which both parties have participated over the years. The individual choices only become reprehensible when wrapped in the flag of either party. Most Republicans are indeed wrapped in the individual folds of their flag and as a result, are refusing to allow a hearing or a vote on the current Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

I have no doubt that Democrats would do the same to the nominee of a Republican president, but that doesn’t serve as justification for this type of tit-for-tat politics. It’s not worthy of my party and it’s not worthy of the Senate as an institution. It is a continuation of what frustrates Granite Staters about government: playing politics with important decisions in our country.

I’m a Republican and an Ayotte supporter. I agree with her on many issues, but this is not one of them. Ayotte does not need to agree with everything Garland stands for, but any nominee for the highest court in the land deserves the decency of a fair hearing. She does not need to cast her vote for Garland, but any nominee should earn the respect of a vote cast.

Judge Garland is a reasonable jurist who has been lauded by members of both parties. As a citizen, I already know a great deal about him, and no anecdote is more persuasive in his favor than the decision he made as high school valedictorian who stepped down in order to guarantee that the previous speaker would be able to deliver his remarks in the interest of freedom of speech. Look it up; a potential great jurist even at the age of seventeen. The American people deserve to know more about a judge who may hold the fate of many important issues in his hands. We deserve to support or oppose him on the basis of his judicial approach and his past judgment. Our representatives in government should encourage a culture of curiosity and rigorous debate, not run away from it.

This Supreme Court nomination offers our politicians two very different options. They can choose to debate the issues or play the old and derisive game of politics. They can choose to honor what is supposed to be a non-political process or they can use that process to score political points.

The decision Senator Kelly Ayotte and other leading Republicans make is bound to have a serious impact on the civility with which we approach so many other governmental processes. As a Republican, an Ayotte supporter, and a former public servant myself, I believe she will ultimately chooses civility and duty over politics. By doing so, she will set the example whereby we can begin together to band up the fractures in our system.

James Scanlon