ELIZABETH, NJ – Janice Siegel, chair of the Westfield Democratic Committee, was the lead speaker at a rally held by Organizing for Action in front of Elizabeth City Hall Thursday. The rally was part of a national action to demand that the Senate “do your job” and commit to a timely vote for a Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
According to Politico, one hour after Justice Scalia’s death was announced and while other elected officials were expressing their condolences to the family, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Scalia until after the 2016 election. This would set a precedent challenging a sitting president’s right to nominate to the high court. McConnell was backed by Republican senators. New Jersey senators Cory Booker and Robert Meléndez are supporting the president’s right to appoint a nominee.
Siegel, a committeewoman on the Westfield Democratic Committee since 2003, is an attorney who earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and is a member of five bars, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Siegel has served as a trial attorney for the US Department of Justice and as an assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. In private practice, she litigated class actions involving environmental and toxic substances issues.
In her speech, Siegel said that “In the past, on average, 67 days passed between the time a President nominated a person to be a justice and the Senate voted. The longest stretch was 125 days. So there is plenty of time for the process to take place in the 322 days left to the President’s term.”
She continued, “The Constitution of the United States says that the President … shall nominate judges of the Supreme Court ... those are the words ‘shall nominate’ ‘judges of the Supreme Court.’ The same sentence says that the President ‘By and With the Advice and Consent of the Senate’ appoints judges of the Supreme Court. So there is a three-step process stated in Article 2 Section 2 of the Constitution. First, the President nominates a person. Then the Senate advises. And then the Senate decides whether to consent to the appointment. In plain words, the President has a duty to nominate a new Justice, and the Senate provides advice and decides whether to consent to the appointment.”
To read Siegel’s entire speech, click here.
At the same day as the rally, OFA volunteers and partners across the country held grassroots advocacy events at Senate offices, courthouses, and other community locations to hold senators accountable to the Constitution.
The group urged the public to contact their senators in support of a timely Supreme Court nomination.