President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court left by the unexpected death of Antonin Scalia.
Obama made the formal announcement on Wednesday at a Rose Garden event.
Garland, 63, is currently a judge on the D.C. Circuit. Although he is held in high regards by both Democrats and Republicans, he did not receive unanimous support for his current judiciary seat. In 1997, he was approved with a Senate vote of 76-23. Five of the conservatives who opposed him are still in office: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, as well as Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
Senate Republicans have vowed to filibuster anyone chosen by Obama for the nomination, refusing to even consider holding a hearing on the President’s nomination.
McConnell and Grassley, a senior GOP aide, said that Garland will be easy to block, especially considering opposition against him in 1997 by several top GOP members.
This is an easy one. Both our Leader and Judiciary Chairman voted against him when he was confirmed before,” the aide said. “And it’s a clear recognition by the White House that we mean what we say: there will be no confirmation. If they thought we were going to cave, they would have put up a much different candidate.
Seven current GOP senate members did vote to confirm him though, so if they continue to follow McConnell’s lead and jump on the bandwagon to block Garland they will surely face accusations of hypocrisy from Democrats.
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, an influential Republican, has pushed Obama to consider Garland for nomination when previous seats on the Supreme Court needed to be filled. Garland has been on the list of possible Supreme Court nominees since the 1990’s.
Garland’s one drawback is his age, being older than usual for someone being considered for the life-long position. But it is clear that Obama chose someone that he thinks some conservatives may be tempted to support, and will be difficult for senate Republicans to block outright without facing blowback.
It remains to be seen how Republicans will respond to Garland’s nomination. All 11 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have signed a pledge that they will not consider any name put forth by the President.
Obama urged Republicans to “consider him fairly, to give him fair hearing and then an up or down vote.”
I have fulfilled my constitutional duty,” added Obama. “Now it is time for the senate to do theirs.
McConnell instantly said that he would not consider Garland, citing the Biden rule. He insisted, once again, that the American people should have a voice and therefore, the nomination should wait until after a new president is elected in November.
The senate will continue to observe the Biden Rule, so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision. The American people may well decide to elect a president who will nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.
Somehow, Republicans seem unable to comprehend the fact that the American people did have a voice in 2012, and they chose Obama. Actually, they used their collective voice to make the same choice twice, having elected Obama for his first term in 2008.