Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Trumped in Shame

The decision by Republican senators to disregard President Obama’s nominee for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court is only trumped in shame by the excuses made for the decision.

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, center, stands as President Barack Obama, right, and Vice President Joe Biden applaud as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Senate GOP leaders declared their position before the corpse of Justice Antonin Scalia had cooled, and while some partisans were speculating on social media that Obama murdered the conservative justice.

The original reason for stonewalling an Obama nominee was that it was Obama’s last year in office as President and therefore the appointment should be left for the incoming president. Maybe Obama also should hand over the suitcase with the nuclear codes to the presidential candidates to see how they handle the pressure.

When it was pointed out that the U.S. Constitution requires the President to nominate someone to sit on the Supreme Court and the Senate to advise and consent on the choice, Republican leaders said the selection was too sensitive and could tip the ideological balance on the high court. It would have useful to ask these leaders, who prefer constitutional jurists, how they justified not following the Constitution.

Orrin-HatchObama invited Senate leaders from both parties to the White to discuss the nomination, and he asked for recommendations. The Republican leaders didn’t offer any names. Later, Senator Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that would review any nominee, said Merrick Garland, the chief Judge for the DC Court of Appeals, would be an attractive choice, but he expressed doubt Obama would pick Garland. Then Obama nominated Garland.

On what NPR called a “sun-dappled day” at the White House, Garland gave a perfect nominee speech. He called it the greatest day in his life, except when his wife said yes to his marriage proposal. He talked about his upbringing and his decision to leave private law practice to become a prosecutor. He described his successful prosecution of the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber. He explained his fidelity to the Constitution and his approach to jurisprudence. He sounded like a centrist, someone with judicial restraint, not an activist judge.

Garland looked like and sounded like the perfect Supreme Court nominee – by a Republican president. He is 63, white, from the Midwest. He is tough on crime and criminals.

But Garland hadn’t climbed into his car at the White House before Senate GOP leaders reiterated his nomination was a political non-starter. He didn’t qualify for a hearing, a vote or even a courtesy meeting because he was appointed by that lame duck President who still carries around the nuclear suitcase.

Senator Hatch, asked about his earlier comment regarding Garland’s suitability as a nominee, hedged. He defended no hearings and no vote on his nomination by saying, “If the shoe was on the other foot, the Democrats would do the same thing.”

The death blow, of course, was the smear campaign that Garland is weak on the 2nd Amendment. Did I mention he was a prosecutor and tough on crime?

Meanwhile, the GOP presidential primary is proceeding with Donald Trump as the frontrunner and approaching becoming the presumptive nominee. No one questions Trump’s experience involving legal matters, but so far most Senate GOP leaders have been trying to hatch ways to block his nomination, too.

Congressional Republicans have a lot of experience obstructing progress, so few observers doubt they will succeed in doing nothing, take full credit and blame Obama.

7/7/10 3:07:10 PM --- JUDGE JUDY --- Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A: Judge Judy Sheindlin, "Judge Judy" a long-running daytime TV fixture. Her popular courtroom drama is experiencing a surge in ratings. Photographed on the set of the show which is taped at Sunset Bronson Studios in Los Angeles. Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Staff

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Staff

If Trump managed to win the presidency and Republicans maintained control of the House and Senate, a dire predicament would arise. Congressional Republicans would have to come up with a new scapegoat to block the President Trump nominee for the Supreme Court – Judge Judy.

Some will rue the good old days when they had Obama to blame.

 

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3 comments on “Trumped in Shame

  1. will
    March 18, 2016

    All of these recent developments cause me to think of the late days of the Nixon-Agnew administration. There is a sense of chaos about to erupt…..yet from where? Thank you Gary.

  2. Les AuCoin
    March 29, 2016

    Good job laying it to the irresponsible GOP. Secondary plot: As the New Yorker magazine recently pointed out, this nomination also reveals Obama’s lack of a Rooseveltian taste for politics. Let me stipulate that I surrogate-spoke in battleground Ohio for the to-be president for the last month of the ’08 campaign. But I hold that he could have named an equally esteemed jurist–a black, a Latino, an American Indian–who would have the political magnetism to help Democrats build a fire under Republican senators in an election year and helped the whole party slate. Instead, true to form, he eschewed such a course. I think it was Maureen Dowd who send Obama likes technocrats more than Democrats. Might that be why Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats on his watch? I admire the man so much in so many ways but I don’t think this is an unfair observation.

    • Jan Wyers
      March 29, 2016

      Thank you Les. A nominee who launched & sustained his Judicial career on the death penalty. Like you, I volunteered for our current leader in 2008, going door to door and phone banking in Denver, in October. My heartbreak struck hard when Pres. Obama approved a 30,000 soldier surge in Afghanistan, in 2008. I read in “Obama’s War” that Hillary Clinton fought for 40,000.

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