Merrick Garland is now a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I’ve made my decision,” President Barack Obama wrote in an email prior to the Rose Garden announcement, according to National Public Radio. “Today, I will announce the person I believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.”
According to the New York Times, Garland is a 63-year-old judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“In choosing Judge Garland, a well-known moderate who has drawn bipartisan support over decades, Mr. Obama was essentially daring Republicans to press their election-year confirmation fight over a judge many of them have publicly praised and who would be difficult for them to reject, particularly if a Democrat were to win the November presidential election and they faced the prospect of a more liberal nominee in 2017.”
Republicans Vow To Block
Ever since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 13, Republican leaders have vowed to not bring any Supreme Court nominee up for a vote (Republicans control the Senate, and so have the power to do this).
In a joint statement with Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senate Judiciary Chairman, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following statement shortly after Scalia’s death was announced.
“Rarely does a Supreme Court vacancy occur in the final year of a presidential term, and the Senate has not confirmed a nominee to fill a vacancy arising in such circumstances for the better part of a century. So the American people have a particular opportunity now to make their voice heard in the selection of Scalia’s successor as they participate in the process to select their next president — as they decide who they trust to both lead the country and nominate the next Supreme Court justice.”
The battle over judicial nominees between the two parties have been contentious over the last 30 years.
Liberal interest groups are calling on the Senate to confirm Garland to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, conservative groups have already re-stated their call to not bring any Supreme Court nominee up for a vote.
The Case Of Miguel Estrada
Democrats will be quick to criticize Republicans for blocking a vote. But Republicans remember instances where Democrats killed nominations of very qualified candidates.
Most conservatives recall when 1987 Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was defeated by the U.S. Senate. However, one case that did not receive nearly so much coverage was that of Miguel Estrada.
Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush in 2001, Estrada was rated “well qualified” by the American Bar Association–their highest ranking for judicial nominees.
But Estrada, the child of Honduran immigrants, was blocked by Senate Democrats.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) declared that Estrada was “far beyond the mainstream.”
According to CNN, however, “Estrada’s nomination had enough support to pass the Senate, which requires only a simple majority.”
“But Republicans, despite repeated tries, could not muster the 60 votes needed to block the filibuster by Democrats.”
Perhaps prophetically, CNN stated that then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) “predicted Democrats will reap a backlash from the American public for using a filibuster to kill an appeals court nomination for the first time in history.”
It seems that that backlash has come.
[Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP Images]