By calling the Republican bluff with the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Obama has trapped Senate Republicans in their own obstruction, fed the Senate rebellion, and gave Democrats a key issue for November’s election.
Obama called Garland one of America’s best legal minds, and an evenhanded judge. The President said, “This is not a responsibility that I take lightly. This is a decision that requires me to set aside short-term expediency and narrow politics so as to maintain the faith of our Founders and perhaps more importantly future generations.”
Later in his remarks, the President sprung his trap, “Merrick was nominated to what’s often called the second-highest court in the land, the DC circuit court, During that confirmation process he earned bipartisan praise from Senators and legal experts alike. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who was then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supported his nomination. Back then, he said, ‘In all honesty, I would like to see one person come to this floor and say one reason why Merrick Garland does not deserve this position.’ He actually accused fellow Senate Republicans trying to obstruct Merrick’s confirmation of playing politics with judges and has since said that Judge Garland would be a consensus nominee for the Supreme Court. He would be very well supported by all sides, and there would be no question that Merrick would be confirmed with bipartisan support.
Obama urged Republicans to give his nominee a hearing and an up or down vote, “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing and then an up or down vote. If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair. It will mean everything is subject to the most partisan politics.”
Some progressives are already complaining about President Obama’s choice. What they are missing is that if the President had chosen a liberal judge, he would have made it easy for Republicans to obstruct the nomination, and given the GOP a key 2016 election issue. Republicans would have been able to take the attention off Donald Trump and rally their party around the idea of blocking Obama’s liberal Supreme Court pick.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell painted himself into a corner by promising to obstruct any Obama Supreme Court nominee. With the selection of Garland, Obama is going to force Republicans to argue an unpopular principle that has no legal merit or precedence. There was already growing unrest in the Senate Republican caucus over McConnell’s unilateral decision to obstruct, and that discontent will only grow after the President’s Supreme Court pick.
President Obama has called the Republican bluff, and set a deadly political trap that may deliver the Senate back to Democrats in November.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association