Statement of Sigma Pi Phi (The Boulé)

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

The Executive Committee of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity unanimously agreed to take a public position on the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

Founded in 1904, Sigma Pi Phi (also known as the Boulé) is the first Greek-letter fraternity to be founded by African-American men. Sigma Pi Phi periodically takes public policy positions on issues critical to our community and has made social action a key strategic priority.

Partisan gamesmanship that delays the Supreme Court nomination process, until a chance for a more favorable political environment for Senate Republicans, undermines the U.S. Constitution.

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the Supreme Court.”

Republican Senators’ statement that the current President should not nominate a Supreme Court replacement and that the Senate will refuse to provide a fair hearing to a nominee violates the text and original intent of the Constitution. The Constitution does not have an “election year” exception.

Since 1900, six Supreme Court Justices have been confirmed in election years. Three of these have been nominated by Republican Presidents, and three have been nominated by Democrats. Most recently, Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed by a Democratic Senate during an election year.

We understand the political arguments by Republican Senators that those five Justices who preceded Justice Kennedy were both nominated and confirmed during election years when the Presidency and the Senate were controlled by the same party. We also understand that in previous years both Democratic and Republican politicians—including then-Senator Joseph Biden—have argued that the Senate should not confirm Supreme Court nominees in a Presidential election year.

This political rhetoric—whether made by Democrats or Republicans— is wrong and cannot be allowed to trump the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does not contain a “polarized government” or “election year” exception.

There is more than enough time to provide a fair hearing to a nominee. Since 1980, every person appointed to the Court has been given a prompt hearing and vote within 100 days of the nomination. There are over 300 days left in the current President’s tenure.

Political gamesmanship that suspends the constitutional process until after the current President’s term to manipulate the composition of the Court damages the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court, its future decisions, and our system of government.

Sigma Pi Phi calls upon the President to expeditiously nominate a well-qualified person to fill the existing Supreme Court vacancy. Our fraternity also calls upon the Senate to fulfill its duty to provide a fair hearing and vote on the nominee in a timely manner.

Sigma Pi Phi requests that its members across the nation contact the President and their U.S. Senators demanding that these officials fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

Sigma Pi Phi will circulate this statement to its members, to the President, to all 100 U.S. Senators, and to appropriate organizations and to media across the nation. James O. Cole Grand Sire Archon

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