As I look at and listen to Attorney General Merrick Garland I am filled with an odd sense of fulfillment … and I wonder if he feels something akin to it, too.
In early 2016, President Barack H. Obama nominated Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed the iconic conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly while vacationing in Texas. Garland had served with distinction on the D.C. Appeals Court, so Obama thought he’d be a good fit for the highest court in the land.
The Republican majority leader in the Senate said “not so fast.” He blocked Garland’s appointment by declaring we were “too close” to a presidential election. Mitch McConnell wanted to wait until the 2016 election concluded. He was hoping the GOP nominee would win. His dream came true with the election of Donald J. Trump, who then selected the first of three justices to the high court.
Garland by then had gone back to work on the D.C. bench. Then came another nomination from another president, Joe Biden, who wanted Garland to become attorney general. The Senate, now in Democratic hands, approved his nomination and Garland is now standing his post at DOJ.
He is doing, in my view, the kind of stellar job of enforcing the law one would expect of him, given his credentials as a fair-minded jurist.
Yes, I saw the GOP stiffing of his nomination to the SCOTUS as a tragic event. McConnell demonstrated the kind of arrogance I frankly didn’t think was possible.
What’s more, I shudder to think what could happen after the 2022 midterm election and the GOP resumes control of the Senate. What might occur if another vacancy occurs on the SCOTUS, say, in early 2023. Would the Senate stiff the current president as it did the earlier one, citing the same specious reasoning for disallowing a nomination to go forward as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution?
I fear that would be the case.
Meanwhile, AG Merrick Garland is doing his job at Justice with supreme skill. It is just as many of us knew he would do.