Yesterday President Barack Obama fulfilled one of his Constitutional duties by nominating a person to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The President nominated 63-year-old Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Judge Garland is a well respected member of the judiciary who only last week was praised by Senator Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as being a "fine man."
The United States Senate must vote to confirm or deny the President's selection. The Senate, which is currently under the control of the Republican Party, appears hellbent on doing neither and instead ignoring the nominee altogether.
Most Republican members of the United States Senate have sworn, since before the funeral of Scalia, that they would not consider any nominee put forth by President Obama, saying that since he has less than a year to serve (barely), they will wait and let the next President nominate someone to fill the vacancy. Senator Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed that his committee will not even hold hearings on an Obama nominee to the high court.
Yesterday Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, grabbed a handy microphone and proceeded to chastise President Obama for doing his Constitutional duty. McConnell laboriously lamented:
"It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize for purposes of the election."
I'm not even sure what all of that twaddle means. First of all, and given the Republican pledge to not act on the nomination, what is the path forward for the President in order to make a nomination that he does intend to see confirmed? And second, is Mitch really accusing the President of trying to politicize an election? What a dastardly move that would be - to inject politics into an election!
President Obama, who is easily the smartest person to occupy the White House during my lifetime, has simply built another box for the Republicans in Congress to barricade themselves into. He has nominated someone so comfortably in the center of the American political spectrum that the Republican Party will look foolish trying to justify keeping Merrick Garland off of the Supreme Court.
Indeed, Judge Garland is so well to the center that the good folks over at Daily Kos have tied themselves into pretzels wailing about Obama's "wasted opportunity" because he did not nominate a young liberal to the high court. But wail as they might, Barack Obama knows exactly what he is doing, and this very cagey nomination will go a long way toward showing the American public just how intolerant and close-minded the entire Republican establishment has become.
Daily Kos seemed to be concerned that if and when Hillary is elected, the Senate will suddenly do its job and approve Judge Garland during the lame duck session after the election - so that Hillary does not get the opportunity to nominate someone from the far left reaches of the Democratic Party. But that notion assumes that President Obama will sit passively by for more than half a year while the Senate twiddles its collective thumbs.
Another option, one that would likely force a quicker response from the Senate, would be for the President to set a deadline. Say, for instance, to tell the Senate that if Judge Garland was not seated on the Supreme Court by the time the next session starts on the first Monday in October, that he (the President) would withdraw the nomination and send up a new one - one much more to the liking of the partisans in his party.
Mitch and the good old goobers in the Senate could either rush to do the President's bidding - with their angry tea-bagger base looking on, or they could lose an opportunity to place a moderate on the Court and instead have to deal with a contentious liberal at a time when Trump or Cruz or some other redneck peckerwood is destroying the Republican dream of re-taking the White House.
Hey Mitch, there are no good options for you. No wonder you're babbling.