In a move that may have members of the Republican party on edge, President Barack Obama has appointed Merrick Garland as the next U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Garland is a widely respected and politically moderate judge who could be taking the place of Antonin Scalia after his untimely death earlier this year.
“[Garland] is one of America’s sharpest legal minds…who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence,” the president said in an open address to the crowd.
Obama also stated that Judge Garland was a “serious man and exemplary judge.” He finished the speech by stating that nominating Garland for the Supreme Court is “the greatest honor of my life.”
Because the Senate is currently Republican-controlled, Obama felt the need to send a very pointed message during his speech. He urged Republican Senate members to give Garland a fair hearing. Failing to do so, he said, would mean a shirking of their duties, which would test the fabric of American society. He also warned that he would bring the full justice system upon the Senate if they didn’t comply.
“It’s supposed to be above politics,” Obama said. “It has to be. And it should stay that way.”
In the past, the Republican Senate has all but stated they won’t offer a hearing to any of Obama’s nominees for Supreme Court justice. They’re doing so under a suggestion that the president isn’t allowed to make an appointment during an election year. However, this is a new precedent that has not been followed in the past.
Obama has been forced to take matters into his own hands if he wants any say in the nomination for Supreme Court Justice. Choosing Garland is just one of many moves he has been making since the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia in order to overtake the Republican Party. Garland’s nomination, which was followed by a discussion of the legality of the GOP’s actions in the Senate, isn’t a message to be taken lightly.
The back-and-forth movement of Obama’s nominations and the Republican’s moves to shut them down seems to be some kind of game with no apparent outcome. Perhaps this last call to bring down the power of the law on the Senate will make the difference.
Despite Obama’s requests, the Republican Senate has already suggested that they would refuse the nomination, just like the others. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he won’t be changing his position, while other GOP Senate members are beginning to be a little more open to the idea of this more moderate nomination. McConnell has said that he will schedule a courtesy meeting with Garland, but that’s nowhere near the same thing as an actual hearing.
President Barack Obama has put a lot of faith in a man who might just be the perfect choice for the position, given the need for more balance between parties in the Senate. Garland is much more conservative than many of Barack Obama’s previous nominees and can fit well between the two parties. He has never ruled or commented on abortion and did not participate in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). His neutrality might make him the bridge between the Democratic and GOP Senate members.
This could be a move to compromise with the party, even if it takes a little sacrifice to do so. Obama may have finally found an appointment that will go through, and if it doesn’t, he may look at using the Constitution as leverage to force consideration on the topic.
At 63, Garland acts as the current chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has been serving there since 1995 under the Clinton administration, following a long history of involvement in major United States courts.
As of now, it’s not certain how the Republican Party will fully react to President Barack Obama’s nomination or his threat to throw the book at the Republican-controlled Senate.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]