Named by The New York Times as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court, Cory Booker’s bona fides are impressive. He was a Rhodes Scholar, received his J.D. at Yale, and has committed to a life of public service: first as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and currently as the state’s junior senator. Booker tells Big Think that the U.S. Constitution is very clear on what should happen procedurally when a seat is vacated on the Supreme Court, as it was recently with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. And, says Booker, those politicians who, under different circumstances, would call themselves strict constitutionalists should now stand up for their beliefs and allow the Senate to review whichever nominee is put forward by the president. His book, United, gives an account of his own political education that have shaped his particular civic vision for America.
Cory Booker: I believe I’d have this opinion whether it was Barack Obama or George Bush or whomever that presidents are elected for four-year terms. Here’s a president with about a quarter of his presidency left and the Constitution and the framers made it very clear what presidents should do when Supreme Court justices happen and what the Senate should do. And so I believe that this is something that should be acted on right now and that leaving a Supreme Court justice seat vacant for more than a year is unacceptable. And I’m hoping, and I know this hope might be in vain, that the Republican-controlled Senate allows this president to nominate a justice, holds hearings and votes on that justice and provides their consent as they see fit. You know people ask me to speculate about what the president is going to do, who he might nominate and I usually don’t indulge in speculation. He is the president of the United States. I am a United States senator from New Jersey. I think that this is going to be a time where he’s going to bring to this decision Solomonic wisdom because I think President Obama is good at evidencing that in trying times. We could have a bit of a constitutional crisis here. We could have a bit of a public fight along jagged, partisan political lines. So I think he’s going to evidence leadership and that’s what I would expect from any person who is the president of the United States of America. And I’m hopeful that we can find a way through this so that we get someone on the Supreme Court as soon as possible because there are some really serious consequential issues before the court. Well, if we waited a year, number one I think that that again is violative of the constitution and the intent of this process and how it was framed. And those people who are strict constitutionalists and I hear people on both sides of the aisle quoting the framers and what their intentions were often; it is wrong to wait more than a year with that vacancy. And it does have a real impact. The court has real cases, tough cases before them right now. Everything from affecting to how people organize unions all the way to issues facing campaign finance to voting rights. So I just think that we need to get the full complement of nine there as quickly as possible so that we can deal with the business of our democracy.