You enter the voting booth alone.
OK, so maybe you should take your conscience with you.
But who gets your vote is nobody else’s business — unless you want to tell us.
When politicians don’t tell us for whom they’re voting, though, they’re still telling us something.
And if Gov. Nikki Haley had stayed mum on who will get her vote in Saturday’s S.C. Republican presidential primary, that would have told us she wasn’t enthusiastic enough about any of the candidates to make that choice public.
Yet Haley did tell us — finally — on Wednesday by endorsing Marco Rubio.
As of this writing, though, 6th District Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, still hasn’t said who will get his vote in his party’s Feb. 27 S.C. primary.
As for us non-politicians, we won’t necessarily tip our general-election hands by our choice of primary participation.
For instance, you can “feel the Bern” in February without having to vote for the Democratic nominee — even if it’s Sanders — in November.
And our state’s 2016 president-picking influence peaks with these primaries.
The Republican ticket has carried South Carolina nine straight times, often by lopsided margins. So our state is among the at least three dozen that aren’t in serious general-election play,
However, as Hillary Clinton pointed out in Denver last Saturday night, mere hours after hearing about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death: “Elections have consequences.”
She was referring to the president’s constitutional power to nominate Supreme Court justices. Barack Obama won that right with his victories in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Of course, the 2014 election that flipped Senate control to a solid GOP majority has consequences, too.
Still, if Republicans refuse to fairly consider Obama’s soon-to-come high court nominee, that hardheaded snit could have negative consequences for the GOP’s quest to keep Senate control — and to win back the White House.
It could also make it tougher for the next Republican president to get a high court nominee confirmed.
Meanwhile, though, the president, senators and Supreme Court justices aren’t the only folks facing tough judgment calls.
That challenge also faces S.C. voters, and quite soon, with potentially monumental consequences.
So judge wisely before delivering your presidential primary verdict.
1) Name the man President George Washington made chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by recess appointment.
2) Name the last Supreme Court justice admitted to legal practice without attending law school.
3) Name the federal Appeals Court justice who wrote in a dissenting opinion on Community Nutrition Institute v. Block: “This case, involving legal requirements for the content and labeling of meat products such as frankfurters, affords a rare opportunity to explore simultaneously both parts of Bismarck’s aphorism that ‘No man should see how laws or sausages are made.’ ”
4) Name the senator who said: “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance.”
5) Name the jurist who said from the bench: “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.”
1) Charleston’s John Rutledge, who had already served on the Supreme Court from 1789-91, became chief justice in June 1795 via a recess appointment by President George Washington. But Rutledge didn’t hold that job for long. From the National Archives: “Rutledge’s outspoken opposition to (John) Jay’s Treaty (with Britain in 1794), and the intermittent mental illness he had suffered from since the death of his wife in 1792, caused the Federalist-dominated Senate to reject his appointment and end his public career.” Rutledge, who resigned less than two weeks after that 14-10 Senate vote against him rather than wait for it to take legal effect, remains the only justice removed from the high court against his will.
2) South Carolina’s James F. Byrnes, though he was a lawyer, was the last person to serve on the Supreme Court without first going to law school. Appointed to the job by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate in 1941, Byrnes quit after only 15 months at what could have been a lifetime gig to become the first director of FDR’s Office of Economic Stabilization. In May 1943, Byrnes became the first director of the Office of War Mobilization. He also served as a member of the U.S. House (1911-25), U.S. Senate (1931-41), U.S. Secretary of State (1945-47) and S.C. governor (1951-55).
3) Antonin Scalia wrote that tasty dissent as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1984, two years before he was nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan and confirmed by a 98-0 Senate vote.
4) Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated that resolve to reject any more Supreme Court nominations from George W. Bush in July 2007, a year and half before the end of that president’s final term. Schumer added: “I will do everything in my power to prevent one more ideological ally from joining (John) Roberts and (Samuel) Alito on the court.” Then no high court openings occurred in the rest of Bush’s presidency. Schumer tried Tuesday to square that pre-emptive 2007 strike at Bush with his current objections to fresh Republican warnings to Obama on high court confirmations. Schumer offered a weak “apples and oranges” defense.
5) Judge Judy
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.