Court Controversy: Why Garland Should Be Confirmed
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2016 is shaping up to be a year that will make a huge mark in future government textbooks everywhere – and it’s only March.
President Obama nominated judge Merrick Garland on the 16th to the Supreme Court in order to fill the vacancy left by conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away just over a month beforehand.
He’s a relatively moderate, centrist, extremely qualified, and extraordinarily “safe” choice. Garland is a Harvard graduate who paid his way through school and worked his way up to be the chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, consistently gaining support from people all over the political spectrum.
All this, and the man might not even be given a proper hearing.
Essentially, when a President nominates a Supreme Court Justice, the Senate is expected and Constitutionally required to review the candidate and either accept or reject them. You can read more about this (and Garland’s predicament) here.
Republican senators, spurred on by majority leader Mitch McConnell, have vowed not to accept any nominee that Obama puts forth in favor of one proposed by the incoming President, who will be elected later this year.
It’s easy to see the reasons for the refusal: Republican senators hope to see a Republican take the oval office next January (though certain candidates might not be exactly who they had in mind), who will nominate someone they agree with ideologically; the President is well into his lame-duck period, or the time just before an official leaves office, during which very little of his policies or nominations are accepted anyway; any judge nominated by Obama is likely to have at least some liberal views and could never replace the conservatism that Scalia brought to the Court.
Sure, the reasons are understandable. Understanding, however, does not, by any means, equate to agreement.
It’s a little frustrating to see the outright defiance of Constitutional law here, particularly when Senators must grasp for straws to glean some type of negative criticism for Garland, who Obama chose over judge Sri Srinivasan despite Srinivasan’s 97-0 Senate confirmation to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the same court as Garland’s. Srinivasan would have been the first Asian, Indian, and Hindu American nominated for the position.
Yes – Garland is even safer than a unanimous circuit court acceptance.
In order to appease the Senate, the President has chosen a man who has more experience and qualifications than literally any other nominee in the history of the United States. Garland has worked on such top-level cases as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber, and the Atlanta Olympics bombing, among others, and has been endorsed and well-liked by partisans of all shapes and sizes: according to Newsmax.com, Republican senator Orin Hatch, before the dawn of Obama’s nomination, declared Garland to be a “fine man,” though he expected a more liberal choice from the President.
As the country watched his nomination live via streams from countless news sites and the White House itself, it wasn’t hard to see how Garland earned that title.
Obama’s introduction was just the right balance of factual and flattering, ensuring that his audience – Senators and the public alike – knew just how illogical Garland’s rejection would be, and how much more illogical maintaining strict noncompliance in considering him would be in the face of such a nominee. He is a man who fits the traditional makeup of the Supreme Court and would not sway it significantly to either the right or left – putting aside today’s partisan barriers and the upcoming election, Garland would have been a shoo-in.
Unfortunately, we can’t just cast aside those issues. They’re problems that Americans simply have to deal with, and in these volatile times, we might just have to look them in the eye and face them.
There might be a reasonable end to this story, though – on March 25, Republican senator Mark Kirk agreed to evaluate Garland as a candidate, summing up the entire controversy in one short sentence during an interview with Chicago radio station WLS-AM:
“Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why.”