In a new scholarly article, law professors Robin Kar and Jason Mazzone have taken a deep dive into the history of Supreme Court nominations to test the plausibility of the Senate Republicans' purported "justification" for their action. Over the entire course of American history there have been 103 instances (prior to this one) in which an elected president faced a vacancy on the Supreme Court prior to the election of the next president. They found that in every one of those 103 instances, the president nominated and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed the new Justice. There has not been a single exception to this practice in all of American history. And this is true even when, as in the current situation, the vacancy arose during an election year. In short, this would be the first time in American history that a president in President Obama's position would be denied this opportunity.
Our federal government was designed as a republic. Within this system, and over time, elections were to have consequences and enlightened public opinion was to govern. Extra-constitutional appendages like the filibuster, abused by minority parties, have moved us away from that vision. Instead, our government is in perpetual gridlock, and the American people have lost faith in their government to even function properly. Even after this rules change, one of our parties must still win the House, the Senate, and the presidency before radically changing our country. That's no small feat. It will often require victories over the course of several elections. That's probably as it should be. Change ought to be possible, but only when one of our parties really earns it. The filibuster gave a small minority in the Senate outsized power to stifle the will of the people.