Randy Evans on History and Importance of Supreme Court Vacancies

RNLA's Chair, Randy Evans, published a thoughtful analysis of the history of Supreme Court nominations and the significance of the current battle over the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia:

Make no mistake, the Constitution empowers the president to nominate people to serve as justices on the nation’s highest and most powerful court. The very same document leaves no doubt that the U.S. Senate has the right to confirm, reject, or simply ignore the president’s choice. . . .
From the theater so far this year, some might think that this is the first time battle lines have been drawn over a Supreme Court vacancy with such serious consternation. Yet, believe it or not, 17 presidents have submitted nominees that were not confirmed. . . . While not the rule, the simple truth is that the president does not always get to have his choice automatically confirmed to the court.

The reason why Republican Senators are standing united in not holding hearings is the importance and power of Supreme Court Justices: 

The suggestion that the current battle over Justice Scalia’s replacement is about President Obama ignores pretty settled history. Fights over seats on the U.S. Supreme Court between the president, the Senate, and sometimes the Congress have occurred since the court began. . . . After all, nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court are serious business. Nominees, if confirmed, serve for life, subject only to removal by impeachment. . . . And, as life spans have increased, justices now serve decades after confirmation to the bench. More significantly, rightly or wrongly, they can make as much or as little law as they choose; and, absent a constitutional amendment, there is little that the president or Congress can do about it.

This vacancy affords a rare opportunity for the people to speak directly on the future of the Supreme Court: 

Interestingly, when it comes to the other two branches of government, the American people get to weigh in and decide which direction to go next. As history now has it, the president and the Senate have that same chance in this all-important election year — to hear from the American people about which direction to go next. 
In November, just a few months from now, the American people will get the chance to voice their own opinions about which direction to go next. Why would the president and the Senate not want to hear what the American people have to say before such an important decision? After all, the Constitution does begin with “We, the People of the United States…”