Standing in front of the Supreme Court Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) called on President Obama to nominate somebody to the Supreme Court who will repudiate his administration’s propensity for circumventing Congress with executive actions.
“I recommend that you take your potential nominee and go and stand in the Rose Garden and have that nominee explicitly repudiate your ‘I have a pen and I have a phone’ theories of executive unilateralism,” Sasse said in a video addressing Obama.
According to Sasse, the Constitution clearly delineates that it is up to the president to appoint a nominee and the duty of the Senate to advise and consent.
In order to get his consent, Sasse said, Obama’s nominee must reject this expansion of executive power.
“You have said in the past that it doesn’t matter to you if the Congress passes the laws you want them to pass because you can just make up law by executive fiat. Sir, that’s not the American system,” he said.
Sasse stressed the importance of the Constitution and the Founders’ belief that governments do not grant rights, but rather they should protect citizens’ God-given rights. He said:
Our Founders also understood that those who serve in government are always tempted to want to amass more and more power for themselves—and power corrupts. So they devised a constitutional system with three separate branches. They divided government and these three separate branches are supposed to check and balance one another and all of them are supposed to uphold and defend a constitutional system of limits.
The Nebraska senator concluded by reiterating his call for a nominee who embraces the Constitution and reject’s the executive’s attempted power-grabs.
“Mr. President, I advise you to please nominate someone who loves the Constitution and who will repudiate your theory of ‘I have a pen and I have a phone’ executive unilateralism. That’s my advice on how you’d get my consent. Thanks for listening,” he said.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at a ranch in Texas on Saturday. His death leaves a vacancy on the high court. While Obama has said he intends to nominate a replacement, Republicans have signaled an unwillingness to confirm his nominee in an election year.