President Obama’s nomination of the moderate federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is, perhaps, his most blatant trolling of Republicans during his entire presidency. Make no mistake, Garland is eminently qualified. Not only that, he’s liked by Democrats and Republicans alike.
NPR’s SCOTUS-watcher Nina Totenberg described Garland as a “gentle individual” and pointed out that Republican efforts to villainize him would run smack into the reality that he is a moderate, mild, and non-ideological judge.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is on the record as saying that Garland is a “consensus candidate” and that he had “no question” that he would be confirmed when he was being considered for the Supreme Court back in 2010. Instead, Pres. Obama nominated a woman, Elena Kagan, to the position.
More recently, Hatch, who once chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and worked hard to get the far-right Clarence Thomas on the high court, made this comment, one that he’ll have a very hard time living down:
“This [nomination process] is all about the election.”
“The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate [to fill the court vacancy], but I don’t believe him,” Hatch told us.
“[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” he told us, referring to the more centrist chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia who was considered and passed over for the two previous high court vacancies.
But, Hatch quickly added, “He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”
Probably won’t? Let’s try “just did”.
To quote a famous Texas governor, “Oops.”
With Obama’s nomination of Garland, Senate Republicans are, in the words of Ulysses Everett McGill, in a tough spot. If they refuse to hold confirmation hearings, they will put the final nail in their own obstructionist coffin, ensuring that the entire country knows that they are acting with partisan political malice rather than in the best interests of the country. They also run the very real risk that the next president will be a Democrat who will likely name someone not nearly so moderate as Garland.
The far less likely scenario is that Donald Trump will name the next Supreme Court justice.
[Let that sink in for just a moment if you’re wavering on whether or not to get in the game leading up to the November general election.]
If they DO hold hearings and confirm Garland’s nomination, they will have been defeated by one of the shrewdest politicians to ever work in the Oval Office.
Make no mistake, Republicans WILL attempt the eviscerate this “gentle individual”. In fact, they already are. Moments after Pres. Obama announced Garland as his nominee, Reince Priebus sent out an email to the GOP’s list saying this:
Obama wants to ram a Clinton-appointed judge, Merrick Garland, down the American people’s throats.
But our Party has launched the Supreme Court Task Force to fight back as the left attacks us for defending the American people.
While Senate Republicans firmly stand by their decision to wait until we have a new president to confirm a nominee, the Supreme Court Task Force needs your help fending off attacks from the left. […]
[T]his is a fight for our Constitution and our most sacred liberties. […]
There’s already speculation that he would reverse a fundamental Second Amendment decision written by Scalia himself.
Garland cannot be the person who succeeds Scalia.
GIMME ALL UR MONIES.
Okay, I added that last bit. But you can see how the Republican character assassination machine is already cranking up. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn declared that, after the Senate was done with him, Garland “will bear some resemblance to a piñata”.
When Republicans do start to batter Garland, our mainstream media who love nothing more than a high-profile partisan fight, will be right there to remind us all of just how moderate Garland is and how much support he’s had from Republicans in the past. When that happens – and it will happen in the months before the general election when they are going to find it in themselves to cheerlead for Trump – it will be a major shot in the arm for Democrats.
One way or the other, this is a win-win situation for Democrats.
Just like Barack Obama intended it.
You can read about Judge Merrick Garland’s background and nice things even conservatives have had to say about him over the years HERE.
UPDATE: If you need any further proof of just how partisanly deranged Republicans have become, here it is:
Should Merrick Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination… #SCOTUS
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) March 16, 2016
UPDATE 2: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich thinks it’s A-OK for a president to nominate a Supreme Court justice in his last year (and wants to be able to do that in his last year as president [hah, hah]), just not THIS president. Also, it’s Pres. Obama’s fault that the Republicans are playing partisan politics with this nomination so, by doing his constitutionally-mandated job of sending a nomination to the Senate, HE is the one who is “creating more division” and “more fighting, more fighting, more fighting.”
I’m totally not kidding: