Merrick Garland should be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to take a seat on the Supreme Court.
Why? He’s qualified in the extreme. He is a model of judicial restraint. Garland is held in high regard by his peers and even by politicians of both parties.
So, what’s the trouble?
He happens to have been nominated by a Democratic president in his final full year in office. Senate Republicans, the folks in charge of the body who must confirm these nominees, say that Barack Obama doesn’t deserve to name the next justice.
And why is that? Well, it’s because the next nominee is going to succeed a conservative judicial titan on the court. Antonin Scalia went hunting in West Texas and then died suddenly earlier this year.
The Supreme Court’s balance has been narrowly conservative. Scalia’s death occurring during the presidency of a progressive politician means that the politician — Barack Obama — should get to select the next person to serve on the nation’s highest court.
But, no-o-o-o-o, say Republicans. He can’t do that.
The nomination must wait for the election to occur and for the next president to take office, say Republicans. Their hope, as if it’s not clear, is that one of the Republicans running for the White House will win the election.
Garland has launched what some are calling a “charm offensive” against some targeted Republican senators.
It hasn’t worked. The GOP lawmakers thought to be vulnerable to Garland’s judicial brilliance aren’t budging. They’re standing by their own man, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said — laughingly, in my view — that “the people deserve to have a voice” in choosing the next Supreme Court justice.
It’s a crock of horse manure. The people’s voice was heard in November 2012 when voters re-elected Barack Obama as president.
Oh, but wait! Didn’t the people speak in 2014 when they voted to hand control of the Senate over to the GOP? Sure they did.
However, as one who believes in presidential prerogative, I also am of a mind to place greater value on the votes collected by the one individual who is elected head of government and head of state than on the votes earned collectively by the legislative branch of government.
Garland’s charm offensive likely won’t — by itself — change enough minds to earn him a confirmation hearing before Barack Obama leaves office.
However, it very well could awaken the people once again this election, who in turn might seek to have their “voices heard” when they toss aside the Senate Republican majority while electing a Democrat to assume the presidency.
Obstruction can be difficult to disguise.