Consider the damage to the court’s legitimacy caused by the political maneuvering of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose party has had a slim majority in the Senate. McConnell claimed it was too close to an election to hold a nomination hearing for Merrick Garland, by all accounts a relatively moderate jurist selected as someone likely to survive a 60-vote filibuster. After McConnell engineered the end of the 60-vote filibuster, Neil Gorsuch was confirmed with only 54 votes. (Senator Collins bemoaned the loss of the filibuster, but voted to end it anyway). Now McConnell is rushing to hold a nomination hearing before the next election for Brett Kavanaugh, someone supported by the extremist Federalist Society and unlikely to get 60 confirmation votes.

Senator Collins, who wants a non-partisan court, is in a unique position to force improvements to our broken appointment process, especially if she is joined by a small group of bipartisan senators. She can take a principled stand to oppose all nominations until the process is improved. Improvements could be recommended by an independent commission, with input from the judicial system. Let experts who value the court’s integrity consider solutions, including fixed-term Supreme Court appointments, which reduce the political stakes for any given appointment and are permissible under our Constitution.

Let this be Senator Collins’ Margaret Chase Smith moment. The Court’s integrity and our system of checks and balances are too important for her to remain committed to the current, broken appointment process.

Nancy Artz


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