GOP May Lose More In Supreme Court Standoff
President Barack Obama has announced his nomination for the replacement of the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The president announced Merrick Garland, a judge for the D.C. Circuit, is his nomination to fill the void left by Scalia.
“I’ve selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence,” Mr. Obama said in a formal Rose Garden ceremony announcing his selection.
It’s an interesting choice as Garland has a very moderate stance in how he has sided in the cases he has heard. Both parties have publicly praised Garland for positioning throughout his career on the bench. Garland uses the facts of the case and the interpretation of the law, which has helped him earn this reputation.
During his 1995 nomination by President Bill Clinton, Garland was asked what his thoughts were on “judicial activism.” His answer may be surprising in this highly political culture.
“Federal judges do not have roving commissions to solve societal problems. The role of the court is to apply law to the facts of the case before it” he said during the 1995 interview. ” [The court’s role] is not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinion on the issues of the day.”
Simply put, the court’s job is to use the law and facts of the case when making a decision—not political agendas. Which brings up this point, Garland is essentially a straightforward judge who is unlikely to rock the boat or influence decisions radically if it doesn’t line up with the law.
Blocking this nomination and not having a hearing is a bit of a head-scratching move by the GOP. The reason being, if the Republicans lose the general election, they may have someone who doesn’t have Garland’s centrist reputation.
Also, the party doesn’t look great now. The party is possibly heading to a brokered convention in which the leadership is desperately trying to find a way to prevent Donald Trump from receiving the nomination. This lack of strong support behind a single nomination doesn’t help the GOP in the public, especially with November rapidly approaching. While Senator Mitch McConnell once again took to the Senate floor announcing the standoff, there have been some senators who have stated publicly that if it is a “lame duck” season, then they will consider Garland as a nomination.
“I would rather have a less liberal nominee like Merrick Garland than a nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put forward,” Arizona’s Jeff Flake told Fox News Channel.
Although this is a political move with some merit, it is possibly a bigger gamble than the GOP should take.
Depending on the election, the Republicans could lose seats in the Senate. Right now, the GOP holds the majority at 54 seats of which 34 could be up for grabs in the 2016 election. This is important for two reasons. The first being the Republican Party doesn’t look strong now and it isn’t likely to change before November. The fractured party is fighting within itself to the point where it’s becoming a Jerry Springer episode.
This gamble also increases the chances of someone other than Garland being nominated. Simply put, the Republicans might lose their current advantage and end up with someone who falls in line with a possible President Hillary Clinton.
The GOP may want to find “another hill to die on” as this one could end up being a losing battle.