Bryan Cranston may have to brush up on his constitutional law or civics, perhaps by requesting some guidance from fictional lawyer Saul Goodman in the AMC spin-off TV series, in connection with how a presidential appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court works.
The popular and respected Breaking Bad star, who has been nominated for an Academy Award for his title role in Trumbo, was reacting on Twitter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement that the next president, i.e., the individual elected in November 2016, rather than the incumbent should nominate a replacement for recently deceased and revered Justice Antonin Scalia to give the American people “a voice” in the pick.
In a tweet, Cranston — who recently described himself as a social liberal but a fiscal moderate who is apparently supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton for president — wrote that “But Senator McConnell, citizens DO have a voice in selecting Justices. It’s called a presidential election.”
Twitter responded in the way that Twitter often does.
In the past, Cranston deemed Obamacare “fantastic” and praised President Obama’s use of executive orders.
One of the most important jobs of any president is to pick judges for the federal court system. Lower court judicial appointments generally don’t create controversy, but the Supreme Court by its very “supreme” nature is a whole different ballgame.
Many of the most contentious Supreme Court decisions in the last several years have been decided by a 5-4 vote. Prior to Scalia’s tragic death on Saturday, he was part of the generally conservative group (although Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts voted twice to keep Obamacare in business, as Donald Trump keeps reminding everyone) appointed by GOP presidents. With Scalia’s passing, the court is evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, which means the next appointment will have huge ramifications for the future of the country.
President Obama will most likely nominate a very liberal Democrat to the court, thereby tipping the balance in a leftward direction if that nominee is confirmed by the Senate. According to CBS News, he has rejected the suggestion to appoint a moderate.
If a four-four split continues on any pending cases this term in the meantime, the lower court ruling will prevail, but would not establish any binding legal precedent on the entire country.
As a U.S. Senator, Obama voted against the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito and joined in a filibuster to prevent Alito from getting an up-or-down vote.
Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, a president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the supreme Court…”, a requirement that Twitter users brought to Cranston’s attention in response to the Breaking Bad icon’s tweet.
Wrote one Twitter user to Cranston, “Are you aware that there was a mid-term election in 2014 that handed control of the Senate to the GOP? We spoke then too.”
Parenthetically, during the George W. Bush administration, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) insisted that no Bush nominee to the Supreme Court should be approved in the last 19 months before the next election.
Leading Democrats in the U.S. Senate who are pushing for a Scalia replacement now also previously abided by rule that they would stop confirming federal judges in a presidential election year, the Washington Post noted.
Hillary Clinton is already playing the race card in trying to pressure Republicans on the SCOTUS nomination.
The White House now says President Obama “regrets” his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to prevent Alito through parliamentary maneuvering from getting a vote, The Hill reported. Obama also claimed yesterday that both parties are at fault in the politicization of high court nominees and admitted the Alito filibuster was done as a way to placate his liberal constituency.
In a callback to a famous Walter White Breaking Bad warning to DEA agent brother in law Hank Schrader, Twitchy observed in its compilation of the Bryan Cranston response tweets that “When it comes to politics, maybe Bryan Cranston’s best course would be to tread lightly.”
In a somewhat unusual decision, President Obama won’t be attending Justice Scalia’s funeral on Saturday but will pay his respects to Scalia on Friday at the Supreme Court, according to Politico.
[Photo by KGC-42/STAR MAX/IPx 2016 via AP]