Update: In spite of nominating a moderate that several Senate Republicans have spoken highly of, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is standing behind his vow not to allow the nomination to go forward.
BREAKING: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: GOP will give the people a voice for court vacancy.— The Associated Press (@AP) March 16, 2016
Just burning it to the ground, huh, Republicans?
For those following at home, President Obama has been whittling down his short-list for Supreme Court nominee to replace Antonin Scalia for a number of weeks. A lot of considerations had to be made about what kind of judge Obama would want to seal his legacy, which judge would most likely be confirmed (if the GOP takes up the nomination at all), and which judge would help the Democratic party the most in an election year, if the GOP decides not to confirm.
Rather than choose an African-American like Paul Watford, who might help the Democrats with the black voters in the fall, and rather than choose the first Asian-American to potentially be placed on the court Sri Srinivasan (who was confirmed 97-0 for the Federal Appeals court), and rather than choose another woman to add to the Court, Obama has decided to go with Merrick Garland, according to the Associated Press.
Garland is a fairly safe (and boring) choice. He’s from Illinois. He’s the Chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He’s a moderate (and as a former prosecutor, he has a reputation for being tough on crime). In fact, he’s so moderate that Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch — the longest serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee — actually suggested that Obama nominate him.
In other words, Obama chose a guy not to help out the Dems during an election year, but a guy he thinks might actually be confirmed. He’s trying to box in the Republicans and force their hand into confirming his nominee by choosing a white, moderate, older nominee (he’s the oldest nominee since Nixon (he’s 63), who a leader of their own party actually suggested. There shouldn’t be much controversy over Garland’s nomination, which is exactly the point. Obama doesn’t want a fight; he wants a confirmation.