Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 12:08 PM

Obama Presents ‘Consensus’ Supreme Court Nominee, Merrick Garland

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Even if Obama nominates an appellate judge like Sri Srinivasan to replace Scalia, Republicans will fight to their political death to delay, until they effectively block, his appointment. This is noteworthy because, just three years ago, the Senate confirmed him 97-0 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is arguably the most influential court in the country after the Supreme Court.

Not to mention the enabling fact that more justices were appointed directly from this Circuit Court to this Supreme Court than anywhere else. They include conservatives John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Scalia himself, as well as liberal Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

In other words, it behooves Obama to nominate an appellate judge who has won unanimous Senate confirmation in recent years.

(“Antonin Scalia, Pugnacious Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Is Dead,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 14, 2016)

There’s nothing new about partisan politics in Washington, DC. But the rabid and reflexive nature of it these days is surely unprecedented. Nothing betrayed this quite like Republicans defiling condolences for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with political shots at President Obama.

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Specifically, disregarding all notions of funereal respect, they took pains to warn Obama that they will use their control of the Senate – not only to block anyone he nominates to replace Scalia, but even to deny that nominee the courtesy of a hearing.

In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee – even promising to deny meeting privately with whomever the President picks.

The historic move outraged Democrats and injected Supreme Court politics into the center of an already tense battle for the White House.

‘I don’t know how many times we need to keep saying this: The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I’ve said repeatedly and I’m now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

(CNN, February 23, 2016)

This, of course, is the same Mitch McConnell who, within days of Obama being sworn-in, pledged that Republicans would do all they could to make him a “failed, one-term president.”

Which is why this senator is to America’s first black president what Governor George Wallace was to the first blacks to integrate its schools. And the annals of history should record him as such. I just hope McConnell has the good sense to repent his racial sins before he meets his maker — the way Wallace famously did..

The point, however, is that Republicans have provided just cause for any sensible American to lament the unbridled and dogged way they have obstructed Obama’s policies, the welfare of the country be damned. I duly lamented in “Washington Political Food Fight Over Debt Ceiling,” July 25, 2011, “S&P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating,” August 8, 2011, and “Bob Woodward: Republicans are ‘Trying to Blackmail Obama,’” October 1, 2013.

But, to get a sense of the absurd lengths to which Republicans will go to deny Obama any success, take note of their reply when asked to cite one thing they admire about his presidency. Because they invariably parrot condescending platitudes about him as a husband and father; whereas any fair-minded Republican would concede, at the very least, that he tripled the stock market and deported more criminal illegal immigrants than any other president, earning him the moniker “Deporter in Chief.”

Incidentally, this rank partisanship is also why Republicans will support a narcissistic demagogue and interloper like Donald Trump, despite denouncing him as wholly unsuited to be president. Clearly, if they were the patriots they profess to be, they would either join the #NeverTrump campaign or cross party lines to support Hillary Clinton — for the greater good of the country. Instead, it’s an indication of how far Republicans have lost their way that their blind devotion to the Republican Party rivals that of the Chinese to the Communist Party.

In any event, Obama called their bluff today. For he not only nominated an appellate judge from the District of Columbia Circuit (just as I telegraphed in my tribute to Scalia), but nominated its chief judge, Merrick Garland.

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Mr. Obama introduced Judge Garland to an audience of his family members, activists, and White House staff in the Rose Garden Wednesday morning, describing him as exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court in the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February…

‘I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote,’ Mr. Obama said…

In choosing Judge Garland, a well-known moderate who has drawn bipartisan support over decades, Mr. Obama was essentially daring Republicans to press their election-year confirmation fight over a judge many of them have publicly praised and who would be difficult for them to reject, particularly if a Democrat were to win the November presidential election and they faced the prospect of a more liberal nominee in 2017.

(New York Times, March 16, 2016)

Still, I feel constrained to share my dismay that Obama did not nominate an equally qualified minority like Judge Srinivasan.

Evidently, he wants to “play it straight.” But (white) Republicans blocking a minority nominee like Srinivasan would’ve galvanized Democrats far more than Republicans blocking a milquetoast nominee like Garland.

Not to mention that Democrats, thusly galvanized, would’ve been far more motivated to vote against Republicans in the November general elections, raising the very viable prospect of wresting control not just of the Senate but the House to boot.

Alas, whatever Obama’s political reasoning, this choice will only affirm suspicions progressives have long held about him being more interested in sealing his legacy than helping Democrats return to power.

For these reasons I think Obama should have chosen a more politically inspiring, even if not more judicially qualified, nominee.

Related commentaries:
Scalia
Washington food fight
S&P downgrades
Republicans trying to blackmail Obama

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