Infants in the Senate stall judicial confirmation

Joseph Flegel-Mishlove

When a teenager calls your actions infantile, you know you’re doing something wrong. Still, t Infants inspire me; they are strong, creative and have impressive learning curves. Some senators, meanwhile, are using their stubbornness and creativity to block progress and write a new version of U.S. history that allows them to stave off confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee. This has been discussed in many articles.

What has been less discussed is how U.S. youth are directly affected by the Senate’s inaction. Global climate change is a real and current threat, most directly affecting low-income communities and communities of color. In recent years, we’ve seen mass shooting after mass shooting in our schools. States like North Carolina pass harmful and oppressive anti-LGBT legislation. And states like Wisconsin enact voter suppression laws that disproportionately affect people of color and young people. Our nation’s courts often have the final word on these laws and issues.

But the Senate is putting a strain on the courts at every level. Young people are hurt when we don’t have fully-staffed, functioning courts. This is why Sen. Ron Johnson’s current obstruction of the confirmation process, combined with his history of obstructing confirmations in Wisconsin district courts, is so dangerous.

I do not mean to suggest that the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, should by default become our next Supreme Court justice. Garland must be asked serious questions, including questions about money in politics and habeas corpus rights. But he must not be silenced. Garland and every individual currently nominated for a judicial appointment — at every level — deserve a fair confirmation hearing and an up-or-down vote.

To achieve those hearings, I suggest we return to our infancy. We will be stubborn and strong-willed. We will not back down, and we will continue to demand that judicial nominees have hearings.
We will be creative. Overwhelming Johnson’s office with letters and phone calls. We will remind him to do his job and that we will heading to our polling places in November. It may not sound creative, but in an age when apathy plagues our politics, voting is perhaps as innovative as it gets.

We will learn. We will reflect on past elections when obstacles were placed between us and our voting booths and we will help our neighbors to ensure that history does not repeat itself. We will reflect on Wisconsin’s history of protest (Act 10 anyone?) and remember that we can come together in important ways.
When we do, our legislators remember whom they represent and our voices are heard.

Joseph Flegel-Mishlove is a native of Shorewood. In August, he will return for his second year at Oberlin College.