“Do Your Job”: Editorials Implore Senate GOP To Rise Above “Obstruction” And Act On Merrick Garland
Newspaper editorials roundly urged Senate Republicans to stop obstructing the nomination process of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The editorials chastised “obstructionist” senators for their “stupendous show of political malfeasance” and warned that the obstruction is “out of sync with the nation's best interests,” among other criticisms.
Obama Nominates Merrick Garland To Supreme Court
Obama Nominates Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court. On March 16, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit, to the Supreme Court. Obama said Garland 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. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.” Obama also asked for Garland to be given “a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote”:
President Obama on Wednesday said he would nominate Merrick B. Garland as the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice, choosing a centrist appeals court judge for the lifetime appointment and daring Republican senators to refuse consideration of a jurist who is highly regarded throughout Washington.
Mr. Obama introduced Judge Garland to an audience of his family members, activists, and White House staff in the Rose Garden Wednesday morning, describing him as exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court in the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
The president said Judge Garland 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. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.”
Mr. Obama demanded a fair hearing for Judge Garland and said that refusing to even consider his nomination would provoke “an endless cycle of more tit for tat” that would undermine the democratic process for years to come.
“I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote,” Mr. Obama said. “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.” [The New York Times, 3/16/16; WhiteHouse.gov, 3/16/16]
Right-Wing Media, Senate Republicans Immediately Insist No Hearings And Votes
GOP Senators “Vow Not To Consider Garland” To Fill SCOTUS Vacancy. In keeping with their promise to block any Supreme Court nominee following Justice Antonin Scalia's death, some GOP senators maintained their stance after Garland's nomination was announced. Senate Judiciary Republicans said “they would not hold a hearing with Garland” because they “want the next president to appoint the new justice,” according to USA Today. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), joined by other prominent GOP senators like Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have said that they do “not support holding hearings or a confirmation vote on Garland's nomination.” [USA Today, 3/17/16]
Right-Wing Media Immediately Announced Opposition To Any Action On Garland's Nomination. Following the announcement that President Obama would nominate Garland, right-wing media immediately criticized the decision and demanded that the Republican-controlled Senate block him from getting a vote. Washington Examiner's Tim Carney tweeted, “I support the Biden standard -- no nominees in an election year,” and Fox host Eric Bolling urged Senate Republicans to “slow walk” the process “until you find out who's going to be the next president.” [Media Matters, 3/16/16, Media Matters, 3/16/16]
Newspaper Editorials Beseech Senate To “Do Your Job, Act On Judge Merrick Garland”
NY Times: Republicans' “Dangerous” And “Unprecedented” Obstruction Could Forever Damage “The Process Of Nominating Supreme Court Justices.” A March 16 New York Times editorial chastised Senate Republicans' “stupendous show of political malfeasance,” slamming the GOP's “unprecedented” and “dishonest” blockade as “a dangerous new role for the Senate, one that could turn the court into nothing more than a group of black-robed politicians.” Not only did the Times editorial board warn Republicans that “this intransigence is unlikely to win votes for the party in November,” but it also lamented that the GOP obstruction could damage the Supreme Court nominating process "'beyond repair'":
If you tried to create the ideal moderate Supreme Court nominee in a laboratory, it would be hard to do better than Judge Merrick Garland.
In nominating Judge Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, President Obama has taken his constitutional duty seriously, choosing a deeply respected federal appellate judge with an outstanding intellect, an impeccable legal record and the personal admiration of Republicans and Democrats.
And yet, within minutes of Mr. Obama's announcement in the Rose Garden on Wednesday morning, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, was again outrageously claiming that Mr. Obama made his pick “not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election.”
He again vowed not to hold hearings until after Mr. Obama leaves office. But there is no reason to believe that Mr. McConnell and his party will hold hearings at all. What they have claimed is blanket authority to veto any nominee before hearings or a vote takes place. This is a dangerous new role for the Senate, one that could turn the court into nothing more than a group of black-robed politicians.
But we are no longer operating in the realm of sense or normality. The Republican Party is staring down the very strong possibility that Donald Trump will be the party's presidential candidate. And now, its leaders, in a stupendous show of political malfeasance, are putting the Supreme Court's constitutional duties on hold while they make dishonest claims about “letting the people's voice be heard.”
This intransigence is unlikely to win votes for the party in November. Americans strongly oppose the Republican blockade, which is unprecedented in the nation's history. As Mr. Obama said Wednesday, “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up-or-down vote.” If they do not, he said, the process of nominating Supreme Court justices -- one of the most important jobs of any president -- will be “beyond repair.”
Mr. Obama has picked a strong nominee, who won bipartisan support in his confirmation to the appeals court. If the Republicans refuse to accept him, they will face one of two scenarios: a nominee selected by Hillary Clinton, who may well be more liberal, or one chosen by President Donald Trump -- a racist, vulgar demagogue who many Republicans have said is unfit to run the country. [The New York Times, 3/16/16]
Wash. Post: “Dear GOP: Stop Playing Politics And Give Merrick Garland A Confirmation Hearing.” A March 16 Washington Post editorial excoriated Senate Republicans for “putting politics above their essential responsibilities,” urging that “Mr. Garland ... get confirmation hearings, and after those a straight up-or-down vote.” The Post editorial board denounced the practice of drawing “arbitrary lines circumscribing what presidents or senators should be able to do in the run-up to an election,” and instead implored the Senate to “do their jobs for as long as the country has hired them”:
As President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the country's second-most powerful court, to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Republican leaders immediately accused the White House of playing politics. In fact, it is Republicans who are putting politics above their essential responsibilities. Mr. Garland should get confirmation hearings, and after those a straight up-or-down vote. Any political damage Republicans endure for refusing will be self-inflicted and well-deserved.
All this is beside the point, GOP leaders argue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Republicans' refusal to consider Mr. Garland is “about a principle, not a person,” explaining that “the American people should have a say in the court's direction.”
But they did have a say -- when they elected Mr. Obama to a second four-year term. Mr. McConnell and his Senate colleagues serve six years at a time, which, incidentally, means they are arguably more lacking in democratic legitimacy in the final years of their terms than any other elected federal officeholders. One could draw all sorts of arbitrary lines circumscribing what presidents or senators should be able to do in the run-up to an election. Each one would increase gridlock and further inhibit the government's proper functioning. Elections are supposed to provide regular and orderly guidance to government, not shut it down for months at a time. The only workable principle is that politicians be allowed -- indeed, expected -- to do their jobs for as long as the country has hired them.
It may be true that Mr. Obama chose Mr. Garland with politics in mind, forcing Republicans to reject a supremely well-qualified judge. Yet Mr. Obama could have chosen to nominate a more ideological figure or a minority candidate with an eye to turning out voters. Instead, the president selected someone whose primary political advantage is that he is eminently reasonable, which is what a Democratic president would do if he were reaching out in good faith to a GOP Senate. Republicans should respond with the same good sense. [The Washington Post, 3/16/16]
USA Today: “Merrick Garland Deserves Better” Than This “Dysfunction And Partisan Rancor.” On March 16, the USA Today editorial board demanded that Senate Republicans “give Judge Garland a hearing,” lamenting that Garland and “the country [deserve] better” than this “political gamesmanship and hypocrisy.” The editorial board warned that “blocking consideration” of Garland “for almost an entire year will only invite similar retribution,” urging the Senate to rise above “the dysfunction and partisan rancor that has degraded Congress”:
Poor Merrick Garland. By virtually all accounts a remarkably well-qualified federal judge, Garland has the dubious distinction of being President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court at a time when the Republican leader of the Senate promises he'll never allow confirmation hearings or a vote on any Obama pick, no matter who it is. Many GOP senators, in fact, say they won't even give Garland the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting when he makes the rounds on Capitol Hill.
So when Garland stood in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday to accept what he called the greatest honor in his life, that was probably the high point of the process. Instantly, he became a symbol of the dysfunction and partisan rancor that has degraded Congress and helped create some of the ugliest election-year rhetoric in modern memory.
Veteran Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, openly advocated for Garland when Obama was considering Supreme Court nominees in 2010, insisting the judge would be “a consensus nominee” who would get strong support from Republicans.
Well, that was then. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the current Judiciary Committee chairman, has vowed that no Obama Supreme Court nominee will get a committee hearing, though he seemed to waver Wednesday about not even meeting with Obama's pick. That would be a step forward for basic courtesy at least.
Over the years, there has been plenty of political gamesmanship and hypocrisy from both parties -- including from Vice President Biden when he was Judiciary chairman -- on court nominees. Neither side comes to this fight with clean hands. But blocking consideration of a Supreme Court nominee, one who appears to have impeccable credentials and fall within the broad judicial mainstream, for almost an entire year will only invite similar retribution when the situation is reversed.
Merrick Garland deserves better. The country deserves better. [USA Today, 3/16/16]
Charlotte Observer: Without Hearing On Garland, GOP Is Taking “Politics Of Obstruction To A Corrosive And Constitutionally Questionable New Low.” A March 16 Charlotte Observer editorial skewered “the hollow, phony quality of GOP leaders' protestations” about holding hearings, writing that Garland “deserves a fair hearing” because otherwise the GOP “is taking the politics of obstruction to a corrosive and constitutionally questionable new low”:
Now that Obama has indeed named Garland, the GOP's self-constructed political box squeezes a bit tighter. Most Republicans are sticking to their no-hearings stonewall. Hatch, however, says he'd be open to considering Garland during the lame-duck congressional session, should Hillary Clinton win the White House in November.
That's rich. So, the Senate would block Obama's nomination because he's a lame duck. But a lame-duck Senate would willingly take up the nomination if threatened with prospects of a younger, more liberal nominee from a President-Elect Clinton or perhaps even some unpredictable wildcard from a President-Elect Trump.
It all underscores the hollow, phony quality of GOP leaders' protestations that their no-hearings stance is “about the principle, not the person,” as our own Sen. Thom Tillis put it.
The real principle has nothing to do with Obama's lame-duck status, of course. The real animating principle is the same one that has driven the GOP the past seven years: Obama is the enemy. Whatever he wants, block it - even if sensible compromises or the occasional well-qualified nominee gets trampled in the process.
If there's one context where politicians ought to rise above that, it's a Supreme Court nomination. Democrats, including the current president and vice president, have played politics in the past with Supreme Court nominations, and shame on them for it.
But by refusing to consider a nominee, the GOP is taking the politics of obstruction to a corrosive and constitutionally questionable new low.
“This is precisely the time when we should play it straight,” Obama rightly noted Wednesday. The Supreme Court is “supposed to be above politics. It has to be. And it should stay that way.”
We hope the voters GOP leaders are so eager to hear from this fall will tell them that this country is sick of the zero-sum games, and doesn't appreciate having qualified public servants like Garland dragged through the political mud. [Charlotte Observer, 3/16/16]
News & Observer: GOP Obstruction Would Be An “Outrage” And “An Affront” To The Constitution. A March 16 News & Observer editorial urged Senate Republicans to “serve their country and do their own duty,” because denying Garland a hearing “would be an outrage” and “an affront not just to Obama [...] but to the Constitution.” The board lamented that if this obstruction leaves the court “at a 4-4 philosophical split, it will be rendered ineffective. The high court needs to be at full strength”:
As the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings establish legal precedent and can have monumental impact, it is gravely important that its members, regardless of liberal or conservative philosophy, are people of stellar training and character.
Judge Merrick Garland, a Chicago native, qualifies on all counts and deserves to be confirmed by the United States Senate to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. That Garland might be denied not only a seat but even a hearing after his nomination by President Obama would be an outrage. It would be an affront not just to Obama, whom Republican leaders have vowed to stymie at every turn, but to the Constitution. The president is charged with filling vacancies on the Supreme Court, and Obama, with almost a year left in his term, is doing his duty.
As a federal judge, Garland has already been confirmed once by the Senate. Republican senators now are in a quandary. If they turn down this obviously qualified judge without so much as a hearing, they'll be judged as ideologues defying a president who is following the Constitution. If they do give Garland a hearing, his intellect and qualifications will quickly become obvious, and it will be all the more difficult for them to vote down his nomination.
Republicans need to serve their country and do their own duty. If the Supreme Court remains at a 4-4 philosophical split, it will be rendered ineffective. The high court needs to be at full strength. [News & Observer, 3/16/16]
Post And Courier: “Hyper-Partisan Disregard” For The Constitution By GOP Is A “Misguided Position.” The Post and Courier editorial board on March 16 torched home state Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, in addition to the GOP Senate at large, for “hyper-partisan disregard” of the Constitution, writing that the senators should abandon their “obstructive stance” and “give Garland fair consideration”:
Presidents nominate Supreme Court justices. The Senate decides whether to confirm them. The Constitution is clear on that process.
But also clear, unfortunately, is the hyper-partisan disregard of that founding document by many Republican senators now that there's an opening on the Supreme Court.
Those lawmakers, all of whom have long billed themselves as staunch defenders of the Constitution, insist that they won't even consider President Barack Obama's nominee to fill that vacancy.
Soon after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and numerous Republican colleagues sounded that warning.
Now that the president has nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, to the high court, they are sticking to that obstructive stance.
That's a particularly misguided position given Judge Garland's reputation as a generally moderate jurist who decides cases not on ideological grounds but sound legal principles. [Post and Courier, 3/16/16]
Dallas Morning News: “The American People ... Expect Both The President And The Senate” To Do Their Jobs. In a March 16 editorial, the Dallas Morning News slammed GOP Sens. John Cornyn's and Ted Cruz's, argument that the next president should nominate Scalia's replacement as “weak,” “phony,” and “steeped in partisan gamesmanship.” The editorial also stated that the senators' failure to act would “neglect their duty, insult their president, and weaken this democracy's faith in justice ... [and] ultimately weaken the very rule of law”:
President Barack Obama has done his duty and nominated a qualified federal judge to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Now it is time for the Senate to do the same. Judge Merrick Garland deserves, as any reasonable nominee deserves, a full hearing and a vote.
For the Republicans who control the Senate to do less is to shame themselves and the institution they represent. It is to neglect their duty, insult their president, and weaken this democracy's faith in justice. It would ultimately weaken the very rule of law.
Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas have each vowed to refuse to consider a nomination. Cornyn repeated that promise Wednesday morning. “At this critical juncture in our nation's history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.” It's a weak, even phony, argument, steeped in partisan gamesmanship and now growing tiresome in repetition. A former Texas attorney general and member of the Texas Supreme Court, Cornyn knows better and should reverse his position. So should Cruz, who has built his presidential campaign around passionate words about the primacy of the Constitution. The truth is, and both men know it in their bones, is that the American people have already had their say when it comes to the Supreme Court. They've twice elected Obama as president. Like our senators, and like conservatives across America, we preferred another outcome. But Americans made Obama our president. [The Dallas Morning News, 3/16/16]
Houston Chronicle: Sen. Cornyn Should Keep His Word To Have “An Up-Or-Down Vote On Judicial Nominees.” A March 16 Houston Chronicle editorial highlighted Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) stance that judicial nominees should have “an up-or-down vote,” and the editorial board said they would “hold Cornyn to his word” expecting “like any honorable Texan” he would keep it:
“We need to get a fresh start.”
That's what U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in 2005 when Democrats opposed President George W. Bush's judicial nominations. Today, as President Barack Obama nominates Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, we hope that Cornyn will take his own advice.
So far, however, Cornyn and the bulk of Republicans in the Senate seem ready to keep fighting and escalating. While the Constitution grants the president the power to nominate candidates to the Supreme Court, they can only be appointed with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. This means majority approval. But Cornyn isn't merely threatening to vote against Merrick, or even attempting to filibuster a vote. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cornyn refuses to have hearings in the first place.
In fact, Texas' senior senator and former justice on the Texas Supreme Court threatened to wallop any nominee like a pinata.
Cornyn has justified this stonewalling - unprecedented in modern politics - by claiming that “Democrats would do the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot.”
As Cornyn himself has said through the years, an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees is a matter of fundamental fairness.
It is also a matter of upholding the U.S. Constitution. Waiting until after the presidential election in November to nominate a justice to replace Scalia, as Cornyn has argued, would undermine the constitutional protections that isolate the nation's highest court from the sways of a turbulent political sea. As the Founding Fathers wrote in Federalist No. 78, the “complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution.”
Instead of maintaining the “specified exceptions to the Legislative authority,” as the Founders wrote, Cornyn wants to transform judicial appointments into an election, violating the original vision of the Constitution - something we're sure would earn the scorn of Scalia.
“It is the Senate's constitutional duty to act on each nomination,” Cornyn said under President Bush. "It is also critically important to our judicial system and the proper functioning of our federal government to fill these positions. Senators have a right to vote for or against any nominee - but blocking votes on nominations is unacceptable.
Presidents may change, but we will still hold Cornyn to his word. Like any honorable Texan, we expect him to keep it. [Houston Chronicle, 3/16/16]
SacBee: “Our System Will Be Diminished” If “Obstructionist Politics” Stiff Garland's Nomination. A March 16 Sacramento Bee editorial condemned McConnell and Senate Republicans for “obstructionist politics” that “drives the process further into dysfunction,” demanding that the Senate give Garland a hearing and a vote. “Rejecting someone with Garland's credentials,” the board wrote, “would be unprecedented,” and warned that Sen. McConnell “would bear [the] responsibility” of “our system [being] diminished”:
President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional obligation Wednesday by nominating an obviously well-qualified jurist to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by restating his intransigent stand that the Republican-controlled Senate would not deign to meet with the nominee, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court for the D.C. circuit, the nation's most prestigious appellate court.
It is, McConnell claimed, a matter of principle. It's not. It is obstructionist politics at its base and gives voters yet more cause for disgust with the state of discourse in Washington.
Senators are supposed to provide advice and consent. Rejection is a prerogative. But McConnell's refusal to even meet with a qualified nominee and respected jurist drives the process further into dysfunction.
As Obama said Wednesday, the failure to give Garland a fair hearing would add to the “endless cycle of more tit for tat and make it increasingly impossible for any president, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function.”
This should matter in November and not solely because voters will be electing a new president. Control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. Democrats must take five seats to gain a majority from Republicans.
The republic will not end if McConnell prevails and the Senate fails to act until after the November election. The Supreme Court will survive if it must get by with eight justices until 2017. But our system will be diminished. McConnell, who professes his love for the institution of the Senate, would bear that responsibility. [Sacramento Bee, 3/16/16]
Kansas City Star: “Obstructionist Puppets” In The Senate “Are Out Of Sync With The Nation's Best Interests.” A March 16 Kansas City Star editorial chastised Senate Republicans for their gambit, warning that they “will expose themselves as naked obstructionists if they refuse to ... hold hearings” for Garland. The Star board warned Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) against being “consumed with self interest and disdain for the democratic process,” lest the come off as “obstructionist puppets” who “will have trouble justifying their obstruction to a public that wants to see fair play in Washington”:
President Barack Obama has acted in the spirit of compromise with his choice of Merrick B. Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans will expose themselves as naked obstructionists if they refuse to follow suit and hold hearings.
Garland is a universally respected centrist judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. By selecting him to fill the vacancy created last month by the death of Antonin Scalia, Obama waived the opportunity to nominate a judge who would extend the president's legacy of liberalism well into the future.
Only a Senate majority consumed with self-interest and disdain for the democratic process would prefer that limbo to timely hearings for a highly qualified nominee.
Blunt and other GOP senators in competitive races will have trouble justifying their obstruction to a public that wants to see fair play in Washington. Senators who would rig the confirmation process to try to allow Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, the chance to choose the next Supreme Court justice are out of sync with the nation's best interests. [Kansas City Star, 3/16/16]
Chicago Sun-Times: “Do Your Job, Senators. ... Hold Hearings” And “Vote To Confirm Or Reject.” In a March 16 editorial by editorial page editor Tom McNamee, the Chicago Sun-Times slammed Senate Republicans for failing to “show a little more respect for the American Constitution,” writing, “do your job” and “hold hearings to consider Garland's suitability and vote to confirm or reject”:
The irony is that the system is working, if Republicans in the Senate would only show a little more respect for the American Constitution.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated an ideologically centrist jurist with impeccable credentials to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, knowing a more liberal nominee would stand no chance of confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate. This is precisely how our government's celebrated system of checks and balances is supposed to moderate extremism. Coming from a Democratic president, Merrick Garland is as good a nominee as the Republicans can ever expect to get.
But, instead, Republican Senate leaders again on Wednesday said they will not hold confirmation hearings -- to hell with the letter and spirit of the Constitution -- while counting down the remaining days of Obama's presidency. As of Thursday, that would be 310 days. Add that to the 33 days since Justice Antonin Scalia died, and you can see the problem:
The Supreme Court, our nation's vital third branch of government, will not be returned to full strength for almost a year. If then.
Do your job, senators. The president put forth a nominee, as required by the Constitution he took an oath to uphold. Hold hearings to consider Garland's suitability and vote to confirm or reject. You took an oath, too. The Constitution makes no exceptions for election years. [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/16/16]
LA Times: Republican Refusal To Hear Obama Supreme Court Nominee “Outrageous.” In a March 16 editorial, the Los Angeles Times slammed Senate Republicans' refusal to hear Obama's nominee as “outrageous.” The editorial called McConnell's claim that the people need a voice “preposterous” and wrote that the damage done to the Republican Party “won't be confined to this nomination”:
The stubborn refusal of Senate Republicans to consider any Supreme Court nominee offered by President Obama would be outrageous, regardless of whom the president selected to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. But Obama's announcement Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge who has won bipartisan praise during a long and distinguished legal career, puts the Republicans' irresponsibility and cheap partisanship in even starker relief.
Incredibly, Obama and Garland had barely finished a Rose Garden news conference before prominent Republicans reiterated that they would refuse to give Garland fair consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dusted off the specious argument that because Obama is in his final year as president, his exercise of his appointment power must be held hostage to the results of the November election. “Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy,” McConnell pleaded.
This is a preposterous argument, and a cynical one to boot. The relevant vote of “the people” in this situation is their decision to support Barack Obama for president in 2008 and again in 2012. Perhaps sensing that his assertion was unconvincing, McConnell also cited a non-existent “Biden Rule,” which supposedly holds that the Senate shouldn't vote on Supreme Court nominations in a presidential election year.
If Senate Republicans can't be reasoned or shamed into abandoning their obstructionism, the damage won't be confined to this nomination. “It will provoke an endless cycle of more tit-for-tat, and make it increasingly impossible for any president, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function,” Obama said. “The reputation of the Supreme Court will inevitably suffer. Faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer. Our democracy will ultimately suffer, as well.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/16/16]
Mercury News: GOP Withholding Consideration Of Garland “Would Be Irresponsible.” A March 16 editorial in the San Jose Mercury News called Garland “a superb nomination” and explained “it would be It would be irresponsible for Republicans in the U.S. Senate to withhold consideration of Garland's nomination for strictly political reasons.” The editorial continued, “President Obama's sensible choice of the moderate Garland makes clear that if Republicans refuse to hold hearings on his nomination, it is simply because GOP senators don't want Obama to fulfill his constitutional duty to appoint Scalia's successor.” [Mercury News, 3/16/16]
Baltimore Sun: Not Giving Garland “The Courtesy Of A Hearing ... Speaks Volumes” About The GOP. A March 16 editorial in The Baltimore Sun urged the GOP to hold hearings, writing, “Should Republicans fulfill their threat to not even hold hearings on the nominee, they demonstrate the party's true Achilles heel, an inability to compromise or put the nation's interests ahead of their own.” The editorial continued, explaining that if no hearing were held “It will remind voters that the GOP is not just the 'Party of No,' it is the party of 'Nobody Works'”:
President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, the widely-respected, centrist chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, may be regarded as an apolitical choice -- if only because the former federal prosecutor is hardly the dream pick of his party's progressive wing. But in reality, the political implications are substantial: Should Republicans fulfill their threat to not even hold hearings on the nominee, they demonstrate the party's true Achilles heel, an inability to compromise or put the nation's interests ahead of their own.
The public rightfully expects President Obama to do his job. In nominating Merrick Garland he has not only chosen a supremely qualified jurist for the nation's highest court but he has demonstrated a willingness to temper his own politics by selecting a 63-year-old moderate who oversaw the successful investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing attack. Now the public expects the same performance from the Senate. That Republicans might not allow such a respected individual the courtesy of a hearing, let alone a vote, speaks volumes. It will remind voters that the GOP is not just the “Party of No,” it is the party of “Nobody Works.” [The Baltimore Sun, 3/16/16]
Tampa Bay Times: President Obama Fulfilled His Obligation, Now Senate Should “Do Its Job”: In a March 16 editorial, the Tampa Bay Times lauded President Obama's Supreme Court nominee as a “widely respected chief judge” and a “well-qualified centrist.” The editorial went on to criticize McConnell and other Republicans for accusing Obama of “politicizing” the nomination and called on the Senate to “do its job”:
President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating an experienced, well-regarded appeals court judge to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now the Senate should do its job by holding hearings and voting on whether to confirm Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans who continue to act as obstructionists and ignore the president's nomination for political reasons are eroding public confidence in the legal system and abdicating their constitutional responsibility.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell renewed his vow to ignore Obama's nomination and illogically argued that presidents should not make appointments to the court in an election year. He accused the president of politicizing the issue, when the opposite is true, and of denying the American people an opportunity to make their voices heard. Voters made their voices heard when they re-elected Obama, and presidents do not stop fulfilling their duties in their final year in office.
It should be clear by now that voters are fed up with Washington. This is exactly the sort of political dysfunction that has led to the rise of Donald Trump among Republicans and Bernie Sanders among Democrats. Every single Supreme Court nominee since 1955 has received a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee except for those nominees who withdrew from consideration. There is absolutely no reason to stop that practice now. [Tampa Bay Times, 3/16/16]
Miami Herald: Republicans' Refusal To Confirm Garland Is “Totally Without Merit.” In a March 16 editorial, the Miami Herald editorial board slammed congressional Republicans for the “preposterous” opinion that Supreme Court nominations are “too important to consider” during an election year.
President Obama effectively took the issue of qualifications off the table when he picked Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In any other year, Judge Garland's nomination would be a sure-fire bet to win quick Senate approval.
Judge Garland is a sitting appeals court judge with a much admired record and a history of bipartisan support who has managed to win Senate approval for the bench while drawing virtually no criticism. Over the years, Republicans have praised his record and suitability for the bench.
Their support has been based on his undeniably formidable résumé: high-ranking Justice Department lawyer; supervisor of the prosecutorial teams that convicted Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber; and a sterling record on the bench, with a reputation as a judicial moderate.
Unfortunately, a great record and all the qualifications in the world are no match for partisan politics amid the volcanic election cycle of 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP allies have made the craven political calculation that voters will not punish them for putting political expediency above constitutional duty.
Mr. McConnell's fellow Republicans have vowed to refuse Judge Garland -- or any other Obama nominee -- the courtesy of a meeting, not to mention an actual hearing and an up-or-down vote. By way of explanation, they offer a transparently political reason for their objection: Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court, they say, is too important to consider in an election year.
By that logic, nothing whatsoever can be accomplished in an election year, regardless of what the Constitution says about the tenure and powers of the president and the duties and responsibilities of the Senate. It is a preposterous position, totally without merit or precedent. [Miami Herald, 3/16/16]
Tampa Tribune: “Whiny Obstructionists” In The Senate Are “Taking A Big Gamble” With “Obstinacy.” In a March 17 editorial, the Tampa Tribune editorial board challenged GOP senators to “have the courage of their convictions and vote this obviously qualified candidate down” instead of blocking hearings and votes, writing that Republicans “are going to come off looking like whiny obstructionists to Americans not blinded by partisanship”:
Senate Republicans are playing right into President Barack Obama's hands by refusing to even consider his nomination of Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court.
The GOP leadership can point to similar stands by Democrats and quote Joe Biden and others all they want. But that is like a child excusing misbehavior by whining, “Bobby did it first.”
The Democrats' hypocrisy does not justify the Senate's refusal to do what clearly is its constitutional duty: to “advise and consent” on the president's nomination.
The Constitution says nothing about the “people deciding” Supreme Court appointments. It is clear about the president's authority to nominate justices.
Obama has boxed Senate President Mitch McConnell and his colleagues in with the nomination of Garland, a well-regarded moderate judge who is a strong law-and-order advocate. At 63 he is older than most court nominees, which looks to be a calculated concession to Republicans by Obama.
Garland earned a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor and astutely supervised the Justice Department's response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing before being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where his legal acumen is highly regarded.
He obviously won't bring to the court the brilliant conservatism of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But Garland is no flaming liberal.
The GOP is taking a big gamble with its obstinacy. Should a Democrat be elected president, it is unlikely the nominee will be someone nearly as even-handed as Garland.
If McConnell and GOP senators want to block Obama's nomination, they should have the courage of their convictions and vote this obviously qualified candidate down, which is their right.
If not, they are going to come off looking like whiny obstructionists to Americans not blinded by partisanship. [Tampa Tribune, 3/17/16]
Sun-Sentinel: GOP Senators Are “Neglecting A Constitutional Duty” And Being “Downright Rude.” The Sun-Sentinel editorial board called the Republican refusal to hear Merrick Garland's nomination “downright rude to a highly qualified jurist.” The board went on to write that both Garland and the American people “deserve” a hearing:
GOP leaders would rather delay and let a possible President Donald Trump make that choice, no matter the frustration we all hear in the presidential campaign about the inability of Washington to get things done.
Let's remind the Senate that there's another principle here -- the principle of doing the job you were elected to do, the job you are paid to do. And part of that job is to fulfill the Senate's duty to advise and consent -- or not consent, but at least debate -- on presidential nominations for the Supreme Court.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, made it quite clear Wednesday that not only won't senators give Garland a proper hearing, they won't even meet with the man.
Such behavior isn't simply neglecting a constitutional duty, it's downright rude to a highly qualified jurist who's won praise from conservatives and liberals alike. In fact, he is considered so moderate that some liberals are upset with the pick.
Waiting another year to consider a Supreme Court justice is a dereliction of duty for the Senate. Right now, the court faces a 4-4 conservative-liberal split and a docket of divisive cases on immigration, affirmative action, unions, health care and abortion. Americans deserve decisions on key questions, not the chance they will have to be reargued when the bench is finally full.
Obama is asking for a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote on Garland.
Garland deserves it. Americans deserve it. [Sun-Sentinel, 3/16/16]
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Call On Sen. Johnson, Republicans To “Give The Nominee A Hearing.” A March 16 editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called on Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Senate Republicans to do their job and “give the nominee a hearing,” writing that “Garland is no wild-eyed loose cannon who can't be trusted”:
Now that President Barack Obama has done his job and nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Sen. Ron Johnson and his fellow Republicans in the Senate need to do theirs and give the nominee a hearing.
GOP senators, including Johnson, have said the next appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the next president of the United States. They're wrong on that. The people elected Obama to a full four-year term in 2012, not a three-year term. He is still the president with obligations to fulfill, and he's fulfilling them.
The Senate should do the same.
In making his announcement, Obama held up Merrick as a diligent public servant, and quoted past praise for Garland from Chief Justice John Roberts and Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch. Obama said Garland's talent for bringing together “odd couples” made him a consensus candidate poised to become an immediate force on the court.
Obama also said Garland is known for his “decency, modesty integrity, evenhandedness and excellence.”
In other words, Garland is no wild-eyed loose cannon who can't be trusted. Quite the opposite. And, although he may lean liberal in a judicial sense, he doesn't appear to be an ideologue with his own agenda. By all accounts, Garland appears to be a reasonable andf thoughtful selection.
Which makes him more than worthy of consideration by the Senate. Senators should do the president and Garland the courtesy of hearing him out. How they vote then is up to them. But at least hear him out. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/16/16]
Richmond Times-Dispatch: GOP Obstruction “Has No Principled Rationale Whatsoever.” A March 16 Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial slammed Senate Republicans' “knee-jerk, dog-in-the-manger opposition that has left much of the American public justifiably disgusted,” writing that Garland should receive hearings and votes because not doing so has “no principled rationale whatsoever”:
Merrick Garland, the man President Obama nominated Wednesday to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court, deserves a fair hearing.
Republicans should live by higher standards. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's stated refusal even to consider anyone Obama nominates has no principled rationale whatsoever. The president still has nine months left in his term. The Republican argument that the country should wait until the next president for a nominee is fatuous. Should Congress refrain from passing legislation until January, too? If it doesn't, then it is asking the president to sign legislation during his last nine months in office. And if the president can dispose of legislative action, he also can propose legislative action -- such as the approval of court nominees.
By all accounts, Garland is eminently qualified for the country's highest court. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch even floated Garland's name a few days ago: “The president told me several times he's going to name a moderate, but I don't believe him,” Hatch said. “He could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.” Hatch said he expected Obama would instead nominate someone more liberal.
The Constitution does not oblige the Senate to approve anyone the president nominates. The Republican majority could reject Garland and hold out for someone more conservative -- though we would not advise such a course. But refusing even to hold hearings on the nomination constitutes the sort of knee-jerk, dog-in-the-manger opposition that has left much of the American public justifiably disgusted. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/16/16]
Boston Globe: Refusal To Hear Nominee Is An “Unprecedented, Outrageous Strategy.” In a March 17 editorial, the Boston Globe editorial board slammed the refusal to hold hearings on Garland's nomination as an “unprecedented, outrageous obstruction strategy.” The board went on to laud Garland as an “eminently qualified” judge:
The fact that Merrick Garland clearly meets the criteria for the Supreme Court ought to be enough to ensure he gets hearings and a vote, despite Republican promises to bottle up President Obama's nominee until he leaves office. The fact that Garland is closer to the center - and older - than anyone a President Hillary Clinton is likely to nominate ought to be enough to give Mitch McConnell second thoughts about his unprecedented, outrageous obstruction strategy.
Republicans don't object to his qualifications -- how could they, when senior GOP senators are already on record praising him? Rather, McConnell is sticking to the preposterous argument that no Obama nominee should get hearings or a vote and that the next president should fill the seat opened by the death of Antonin Scalia. There is no precedent for such a demand, and the GOP's stance is an insult to the voters who elected President Obama for a four-year term.
Senators who have backed McConnell's stance, including Iowa's Chuck Grassley and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, also need to reconsider. Both are running for reelection in swing states. As it was, their refusal to consider Obama's nominee was a disservice to their own constituents, who picked Obama in 2012. Now their failure to repudiate Trump, coupled with their insistence that the next president choose Scalia's replacement, looks an awful lot like an endorsement of Trump's fitness to pick the next justice. [Boston Globe, 3/17/16]
La Opinión: It Is “Outrageous” That “Lawmakers With An Extremely Low Approval Rate” Are Preventing Other Branches Of Government From Operating. La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States, published a March 16 editorial -- both in English and Spanish language -- that criticized Republican lawmakers for “deciding not to let the court function properly” by refusing to fulfill their duty “for political reasons.” La Opinión also called on the Senate to “stop searching for excuses” and consider Obama's pick for the Supreme Court:
The Constitution doesn't say that the Senate can choose to “let the American people decide” who the next justice will be, as an excuse not to fulfill its duty, for political reasons. Senators are hoping that a Republican wins the presidential election in November and can nominate a justice like the ultraconservative Scalia--therefore maintaining the court's balance in favor of conservatives.
Republican lawmakers decided that, for them, Obama's presidency is over--and demonstrated it with what they did with the White House's budget. Now, by choosing not to consider a Supreme Court nominee, they're deciding not to let the court function properly for at least nine months. This latter move will be a waste of time, because many of the cases that get heard will have to be repeated once the court is complete.
It is unusual that Congress--where both the institution and its constitutional powers have very low popularity--is the one preventing the executive and judicial branches from operating fully. It is outrageous that lawmakers with an extremely low approval rate among Americans because of their inability to do their jobs, are now taking over a job that isn't theirs and representing those Americans.
If the situation were different, the Republican-majority Senate, which in the past only had good things to say about Garland, would have confirmed him quickly. If the situation were different, Obama would have probably appointed a more liberal nominee. However, direct opposition in Congress and the state of affairs in Washington required someone who is acceptable to everyone. The president did his part. Now the Senate must stop searching for excuses not to fulfill its obligations, and consider Garland's nomination. [La Opinión, 3/16/16, 3/16/16]