The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Republican Senate Should Hold Firm on Supreme Court Nomination

President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court demonstrates a desire to compromise with the Senate, but it should not change the calculus of the Republican majority to keep Justice Scalia’s seat open. Garland is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, commonly described as the second-most important court in the land after the Supreme Court (and the bench on which Justice Scalia served first, as well as Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Thomas). He has a reputation as a left-of-center judge, likely more moderate that the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court.

Choosing Garland indicates that President Obama hopes a moderate choice can get through the Senate. He has put aside the opportunity to choose a nominee who had no chance, but could be a convenient point of attack in the presidential campaign.

Nevertheless, Senate Republicans should keep Justice Scalia’s seat open at least until the November elections. The Senate has rarely confirmed Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year, especially when opposite parties have controlled the Senate and the White House. The Constitution does not require the Senate to confirm anyone; it only requires the Senate’s advice and consent before the president can appoint a justice to office. The Republicans can await the outcome of the elections. If a Republican wins the presidency, then the people will have spoken in favor of replacing Justice Scalia with another conservative. If a Democrat wins, the Senate could confirm Garland or await a pick from Clinton or Sanders. But in either case, the American people will have had a say in filling a seat on a Court that has seized more and more issues from the political process. It is the least that democracy requires.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More