Mostly whimsical reflections on life
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.
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.
Obama 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.
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.