This week President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland would replace conservative stalwart, and recently departed, Justice Antonin Scalia.
By most counts Garland, a federal appeals court judge, is an extremely qualified moderate with an impressive career of consensus building in difficult circumstances.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though, is sticking to his guns. He says, in keeping with the “Biden rule,” there’s not a chance that Obama will get to name the next Supreme Court Justice. The reference is to a 1992 speech to the Senate in which the Vice-President (then the sitting Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) argued that his colleagues shouldn’t fill a high court vacancy in the waning months of George H.W. Bush’s Presidency.
“The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden Rule’ so the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell said this week. “The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice.”
As it stands, Republicans (who control the Senate, which controls the advice and consent” confirmation process as outlined in the Constitution), refuse to meet with Garland, let alone hold any hearings.
That means Democrats, Obama, and Garland are out of luck. The only thing they can do is complain and try to convince Americans that the GOP is derelict, dysfunctional, and obstructionist and should be punished at the polls.
In the current, toxic, political climate, we have no idea what will happen at the polls. But we do know that Americans get a “voice” every election cycle and most recently used it to say they wanted Obama. Since there’s a vacancy now, and he’s our President, he should get to fill the seat.
The Senate should hold hearings straightaway and confirm Judge Garland.