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Tipping the Scales of Political Justice

Posted March 16th, 2016 at 5:02 pm (UTC-4)
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After weeks of speculation about whether President Obama would nominate a liberal ideologue who is a minority or woman to replace the venerated conservative Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, Obama selected a respected 63-year old white man, described by legal experts as a centrist judge.

U.S. President Barack Obama applauds Judge Merrick Garland (C) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court as Vice President Joe Biden (L) joins in at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016.        REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama applauds Judge Merrick Garland (C) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court as Vice President Joe Biden (L) joins in at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS

Merrick Garland is the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.Circuit — considered by many to be the second highest court in the land.

On MSNBCSCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein called Garland a nominee “who Republicans would have the hardest time saying ‘no’ to,” but he may never get a confirmation hearing by the Senate.

Shortly after the announcement, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the nomination would not be considered because this is an election year. McConnell said the “people should have a voice in filling the vacancy.”

As the contentious campaign plays out over the next seven months, it will be interesting to see whether political pressure builds for the Senate to give Garland its consideration.

Who Is Merrick Garland?

Ian Millhiser – ThinkProgress

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the longest serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered his own thoughts on who President Obama should nominate to fill the seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last week. “[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” Hatch told the conservative news site Newsmax, before adding that “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….”

A 19 year veteran of the DC Circuit — a court that is widely viewed as the second-most powerful in the nation — Garland graduated with high honors from Harvard Law School. He clerked for Justice William Brennan, and spent a few years as a partner in the multinational law firm Arnold and Porter. He also held senior positions in the Justice Department, including a leadership role in the department’s criminal division and a stint as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.

Obama’s Scotus Pick and the GOP’s Dilemma

Guy Benson –

[T]oday’s move is a shrewd play by Obama, who defied expectations by choosing someone who can somewhat reasonably be described as a compromise nominee.  It’s especially cunning that he chose to drop this pick at a moment that finds the Republican Party roiled by dysfunction, convulsions and deep divisions….

If the GOP wins the White House in November, the Senate will kill off Garland’s nomination for good and wait for the new president to send over a nominee in the mold of Scalia….

But what if Hillary wins?  There’s a very real chance that happens — especiallyif Trump’s the Republican nominee, for reasons we’ve outlined on several occasions.  Then what?  Then the lame duck Senate either confirms Garland over the waning days of the session, or the new (almost certainly Democratic) Senate takes up President Hillary’s immediate nominee, who could very well be a much younger, much more ideological anti-Scalia.

With Merrick Garland, Obama Meets GOP Halfway

Steve Chapman – Chicago Tribune

In choosing a Supreme Court nominee in the last year of his presidency, with the Senate controlled by the opposition party, Barack Obama had two options. The first was to essentially concede that no one can be confirmed and pick someone who would energize the Democratic faithful to get to the polls in November — a black, Hispanic, Asian or female (or some combination)….

Obama is taking the second option, choosing a compromise candidate who, in a normal year, would certainly be approved. Merrick Garland is a moderate with a long and stellar record on the federal bench. Maybe shocking revelations about him will emerge, but at the moment, about the only reason Republicans have to block him is that they don’t want to let this president appoint a justice.

The Nomination of Merrick Garland Is a Futile Charade

Ed Rogers – The Washington Post

According to, the word “futile” is defined as “having no useful result; ineffectual.” So “futile” is the word that best sums up the substance of President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, yet it doesn’t adequately describe the political utility of his move to nominate Judge Merrick Garland. That would be a “charade,” defined by Google as “an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.” There is no chance Garland will be confirmed, but there is some political value in Obama proceeding with the nomination even though he knows he cannot win.

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