Opinion: Merrick Garland Should Become Next Justice

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Opinion: Merrick Garland Should Become Next Justice

Eamon Sheehan, Senior Editor

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Merrick Garland President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court is fated to become one of America’s most undeservedly contentious figures.  Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the floor of the Senate and held steadfast his opposition to voting down a justice nominated by President Obama. McConnell’s motivations are based in partisan obstructionism and in doing so, Mr. McConnell has wasted an opportunity to both bring the country together and salvage the Republican party.  “Here’s our view: Instead of spending more time debating an issue where we can’t agree, let’s keep working to address the issues where we can.” McConnell’s stated his ideological argument is to “let the American people have a voice in the momentous decision.”  Not only is his stance undermined by both precedent and current realities, the Republican Senate is telling Obama to do his job when they are refusing to do their’s.

The United States elected Barack Obama the president and he has the constitutional right to make a nomination for a Supreme court vacancy. Congress can reject this nominee but historically these votes have judged not a nominee’s political allegiances, but their qualification for the court. The last nominee to be voted down by congress was Harriet Miers. This was done unilaterally because of her record rather than any partisan concern. Otherwise, qualified presidential nominees are usually unanimously supported. Senate leaders are now invoking the so-called Thurmond Rule which in the past has encouraged senators to vote against a nominee during the president’s last six months. Opposing the a nominee now would lead to 10 months of the court operating without a decisive ninth member.

This is not the fist time a Republican majority leader has blatantly undermined the president. One need only think back to John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to speak without constitutional authority. What McConnell is effectively doing is taking the decision away from Obama and into his own hands. This begs the question: does America trust the senate to make a decision that could have great lasting impact on the nation? One could look to the approval polling and see that Obama’s numbers according to a Gallup poll from yesterday are 50-47 in favor whereas their numbers say a mere 13% of Americans approve of the job congress is doing. Obama was re- elected by popular vote more than three years ago but public opinion still supports that decision.

Mr. McConnell should take a hard look the 2016 presidential race: the one that he claims will give a voice to the American people. The two leading candidates for president in fact do just the opposite. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has had the ability to elevate his campaign to front-runner status through demagoguery; promoting war crimes, mass deportation, and discrimination based on religion; and inciting violence. These views are inherently un-American. Across the spectrum you have Hillary Clinton as the front-runner. A campaign supported by multi-nationals, three out of five of her top contributors are big banks: J.P Morgan, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Also most voters probably won’t vote on the issue of the Supreme Court. It has been historically a procedural decision and doesn’t gain the media attention that “Donald Trump is calling for a shutdown of Muslims entering the US” does. Our two top candidates for the presidency are not popular, they will not promote healing, and neither of these campaigns give a voice to the American people.

In the face of GOP’s dissociation as manifested by Donald Trump, why would elected Republican officials continue a policy of obstructionism? The titanic disasters that have been the presidential bids of establishment conservatives Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio should cause a little more judiciousness. The Trump campaign proves that the quid-pro-quo between the conservatism of the Beltway and social-conservative America can no longer function. Formed in the sixties, the alliance between the dixie-crats and the neoconservatives is now cracking. This isn’t soap-box doom-saying; this election could spell the end of the GOP. The Senate Majority Leader is second only to the Speaker of the House in the hierarchy of the Republican establishment. In this the year of the outsider, America wants to see radical change. Senate obstructionism to Obama’s presidency along with an incomplete recovery from the 2007 recession is what has breaded such discontent. The GOP is tearing at the seems and rejecting Mr. Garland doesn’t help.

But of course Merrick Garland is a moderate. Unlike our ideological and unsavory presidential candidates, he is someone to unite behind. Already Republicans such as Charles E. Grassley and Kelly Ayote are breaking the ranks and agreeing to consider and meet with Garland. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine even said they would vote for Obama’s nominee before the nomination of Garland. The Supreme Court is a hugely influential part of the government. Garland is a strong defendant of the first amendment and has sided in the past for a more transparent government. In the case that Merrick Garland becomes a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, it will be clear that he has a more insightful interpretation of the constitution that Mitch McConnell.

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