Leading environmental groups are throwing their weight behind the growing call for Congress to "do its job" and hold hearings and a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court.
"There is ample precedent for a nominee to be confirmed in election years, even when the Senate and White House are controlled by opposite political parties," reads a letter, reportedly sent Tuesday by the green groups to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "Willful obstructionism is simply a dereliction of duty, and not what the American people expect from their elected representatives."
Among the letter's signatories are Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Earthjustice, and more than a dozen others. Dan Byrnes, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, told the Washington Post that the letter represented the largest coordinated effort by environmental organizations to weigh in on the Supreme Court nomination process yet.
As Common Dreams has reported, the person chosen to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the high court bench could have a huge impact on U.S. climate change policies—and in turn, on the fate of the planet.
The letter addresses that sizable influence, saying: "In an era when powerful interests who profit from pollution have an unprecedented level of access and influence, it is imperative that we have functioning courts—particularly our nation's highest. This is not the time to hobble our judiciary with extended vacancies caused by political gamesmanship."
Meanwhile, the national women's advocacy group UltraViolet Action on Tuesday launched a new online ad campaign targeting Republican senators from Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, charging them with wanting Donald Trump to be responsible for picking the next Supreme Court justice.
"By refusing to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and consider an Obama nominee, it is clear that these Republicans would rather Donald Trump be responsible for picking the next Supreme Court justice," said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet Action. "That incredibly dangerous decision sends a clear signal to voters that Senate Republicans, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell are both unfit, and unwilling to serve the best interests of the American people."
The environmental groups' letter comes on the heels of another missive, this one from 82 civil society organizations, which denounced the GOP's "no hearing, no vote" strategy as "a clear perversion of your constitutional duties as understood by almost every scholarly authority on the topic and by most Americans."
Reid, whom The Hill reports "has taken to the floor on a daily basis to knock the GOP over the stance," employed a similar talking point on Tuesday, saying that on the matter of the Supreme Court nomination, Republicans have "been listening to too much."