Ted Olson Calls For Truce on Supreme Court Confirmation Battles

Ted Olson

In an opinion published on April 28, 2016, in The Wall Street Journal, A Supreme Court Challenge for Democrats, NAFUSA member Ted Olson opines,

The relentless partisan warfare over Supreme Court appointments, including the latest manifestation involving Judge Merrick Garland, is disheartening, damaging to the court and corrosive to civil discourse. The Supreme Court renders 70 to 80 decisions every year, 20% to 30% of them highly controversial. Public acceptance of contentious outcomes, even from those who strongly disagree, is important to the stability of our Republic. And the public’s willingness to accept decisions depends on the court’s moral authority, independence, reputation and integrity.

But Olson states that a truce cannot be one-sided, arguing that the Rubicon seems to have been crossed in 1987 with the Senate rejection of Robert Bork. He urges that the Republicans could make Judge Garland’s nomination a turning point, but “Democrats must make a credible commitment to keep their part of the bargain.”

If, however, a pact could be reached among responsible Republican and Democratic leaders to give well-qualified Supreme Court nominees of either party a hearing and a vote within 120-180 days of a nomination, we could start down a path toward restoring an atmosphere of respect and civility to this process—and to prospective Supreme Court justices.

Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, spoke on Supreme Court issues at the 2013 NAFUSA conference in Washington. He is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.