Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/The President's Supreme Court nominee...


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Hi Mr Berg, I have a question regarding the fight to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. If an elected official refuses to do a task required under the constitution, can he be removed/impeached? For example... if the President nominates a candidate (which he says he will) for the Senate Judiciary Comittee to consider, and they refuse to do so (which some have said they may do) - is there a mechanism for the president, or anyone, to remove an offical for refusing to undertake a constitutional requirement. Can the Office of the President (through the White House Cousel, Attorney General, Solicitor General, or Justice Department) sue the Office of the Senate Leader or the Leader himself for not fulfilling that constitutional duties of considering a President's nominee? Is there a prescedent for that? Has a President ever sued Congress, or a member of Congress, or could he? And it two lower courts differed on their verdicts could the Supreme Court ever take that case?

Thank you in advance... James

Dear James,

The short answer is "no." A member of Congress can be removed from office -- but only BY Congress, and that just is not going to happen in this case.

In addition, while one might well argue that the Senate has a duty to vote on the nomination, there is no language in the Constitution that specifically requires them to have such a vote -- and certainly no requirement that they vote by a specific date. So while it would be possible to sue someone over the issue, I think it very likely that the courts would refuse to take the case on the ground that it was a political question.

Sorry I can't be more encouraging!


Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

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John C. Berg


How Congress works, how to influence Congress, how Congress can be improved, how state legislatures work, how to influence state legislatures, how the Massachusetts legislature works, how to influence the Massachusetts legislature, why the presidential debates are unfair, how to improve the presidential debates, why the US electoral system is unfair, how to improve the US electoral system, how to end the two-party monopoly


Political activist for 40 years, currently working on the Ralph Nader presidential campaign. Professor of political science for 26 years.

American Association of Political Consultants, American Political Science Association, International Political Science Association, Caucus for a New Political Science, International Political Science Association, National Society for Experiential Education

Polity, Policy Studies Journal, Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Journal, author of Unequal Struggle: Class, Gender, Race, and Power in the US Congress (Westview Press, 1994).

PhD Harvard University 1975
MA Harvard University 1973
BA with Honors University of Wisconsin 1964

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