Even If Hillary Clinton Wins, She May Be In For A Rough 4 Years
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are closer than ever in the polls, but it appears that even if Clinton wins, her fight may be far from over. Already, a number of Republican senators have promised to obstruct a President Clinton's attempts to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court — and remember, these promises are even being made before Election Day. Without a Democratic majority in both houses — a very unlikely outcome in 2016 — it seems like it will be as difficult as ever for a Democratic president to create policy or appoint justices.
Unsuccessful presidential candidate and current Texas senator, Ted Cruz, argued that there is a "long historical precedent" for having fewer than nine justices on the Supreme Court, despite the constitutional mandate that the Senate hold a vote on the president's nominees. The Houston Press slammed Cruz's comments, writing that the man who is "supposed to be a brilliant constitutional scholar" was mischaracterizing judicial history.
In truth, a Supreme Court with only eight permanent seats would be a disaster for the country. Tied rulings are far from ideal outcomes, as Mark Fahey of CNBC noted, writing "Supreme Court justices are aware that a 4-4 decision is a failure to resolve legal quandaries for the country, especially when lower courts have issued conflicting rulings." This problem has already arisen in the months since Scalia's death, when a 4-4 split left a lower court's immigration ruling.
Refusal to hold a vote on a Supreme Court nominee has other ethical implications, as well. The election of a President Clinton would be, of course, the result of the will of the voters; by refusing to even consider her theoretical nominees, obstructionists explicitly ignore that will. A majority of Americans already disagree with GOP obstruction of Obama's current pending nominee, Merrick Garland, and future obstruction is likely to be similarly unpopular.
Legislative obstructionism would be damaging to a Clinton presidency, too. Partisanship delayed and nearly prevented Congress from passing a vital bill to fund Zika prevention, for example, and if those sorts of attitudes persist in 2017, Congress will impede its own ability to help its constituents.
Moreover, following F.B.I. Director James Comey's announcement that new emails related to the investigation of Clinton's private server had come to light, many Republicans in Congress seem more committed to continuing the probe should she become president.
The only thing clear is the rancorous partisanship of the 2016 election will not vanish after Nov. 8.