Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson is speaking out and holding Senator Grassley accountable for his obstruction of the Supreme Court hearings. Anderson says Grassley’s refusal to hold hearings is an abdication of a sworn duty to “support and defend” the Constitution.
He says Grassley’s obstruction of the President’s nominee is a “dereliction of his sworn duty and an unpatriotic act.” He quickly added that he doesn’t question Grassley’s patriotism but does condemn his stonewalling as an unpatriotic act. Anderson says the definition of a patriot is “a person who loves and supports one’s country.” He continued, “I see very little love and support for our country on what Senate Republicans are doing.”
Anderson was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1994 and served 19 years until his retirement in 2013. He points out that his criticism of Grassley isn’t political. He isn’t campaigning for Grassley’s opponent. He was appointed by former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican. Anderson said he has voted consistently for Republicans most of his life. He simply wants Grassley to do the right thing for the Supreme Court and the country.
Anderson says Grassley’s failure to do his job is rooted in the Justice’s concern about the lasting damage caused to the rule of law and to our country. He is speaking out on behalf of the Constitution and the independence of the judicial system. Anderson explained, “As a retired Supreme Court Justice with over two decades of experience, I not only can speak out, I have an obligation to do so.”
Anderson described the many ways that a 4-4 tied Court is damaging the country. He says Grassley’s refusal to fill the Court imposes dysfunction on the Court for a year to eighteen months. He says 4-4 rulings leave the law undecided. It creates inefficiency because the ruling is bound to be relitigated creating higher costs and expenses. He says that tied opinions “result in delays, rehearings, unresolved issues and a waste of time and effort. Judges, litigants, executive officers, legislators and citizens don’t like this indecision, ambiguity and dysfunction.”
Anderson says, “President Obama has done his sworn duty by nominating Chief Justice Merrick Garland.” The President selected “the best person available under the circumstances. He nominated a moderate, experienced, highly qualified and traditional jurist.” Both Democrats and Republicans have spoken out in support of Garland.
Anderson says refusing to hold hearings has “created a dilemma for Senate Republicans.” Anderson asks, “How can they hold a hearing and refuse to confirm a well-qualified justice?” That would expose their partisan political agenda so they have decided instead to refuse to hold hearings and deny the public the opportunity to see that Garland is a highly qualified candidate.
Anderson urges Senator Grassley and Senate Republicans to end the current court stalemate by holding hearings. He reminded them that they took a sworn duty to act. He asks that they give Garland a hearing and fulfill their obligation to support the Constitution. He says they have a responsibility to hold hearings and fulfill their duty of “Advice and Consent.” He reminds Senators that in swearing their oath of office they acknowledge that “they understand the Constitution, believe in it, support it and act consistent with its mandates.”
Anderson describes the Republicans refusal as basically an attempt to “rewrite the constitution by inaction.” Their obstruction shortens the President’s term by more than a year by refusing to hold hearings for his nominee. He suggests that “if Republicans are given a political pass for doing that, both political parties will be emboldened to ignore future presidential actions whenever government is divided.”
Anderson summed up his concerns about the future of the Court with this prediction in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on August 15. “The Senate’s refusal to act on the Garland appointment puts the branch of government he loves the most at increased risk of acquiring the dysfunction and public disrespect that has afflicted Congress.”
by Rick Smith