Merrick Garland might become cannon fodder. Barack Obama, as President of the United States (POTUS), is granted the absolute legal right and responsibility to nominate Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The Constitution of the United States in Article II grants Obama this authority by stating that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court.” So as president, Obama nominated Garland to succeed Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly on February 13, 2016.
Garland was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in April 1997 and became Chief Judge on February 12, 2013. According to his biography on the court’s website, Garland graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1974 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1977.
Before he got to that point, Judge Garland practiced law as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Who could argue with those credentials? Well nobody, if what one expects in an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court bench is a lawyer with profound credentials, but as they say, “credentials don’t feed the bulldog.”
Throughout this political season, any nomination by Obama brought to the Senate has been received with indignant outrage. There has been ramped up rhetoric from presidential contenders and members of the United States Senate. Not surprisingly these voices have been heard from the GOP candidates and their side of the aisle in Congress.
Within hours of Justice Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that he would hold no hearings on any nominations. Over 100 conservatives across more than 29 states signed an open memo stating, “We applaud Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), for promising not to hold a hearing on any nominee.” As recently as March 20, 2016, on NBC’s Meet the Press, McConnell again stated, “We’re not going to be confirming a judge to the Supreme Court under this president.”
On the campaign trail, Ted Cruz has stated that he is against any nominations being brought up during the time left in this presidency. As to Judge Garland, in particular, he stated, “I proudly stand with my Republican colleagues in our shared belief – our advice and consent – that we should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office.” This is by no means a small and quiet group opposing Judge Garland. Even if they do not oppose him personally, it is the concept of the role that the nominee plays in the theater of the absurd. So, Garland might become cannon fodder as this POTUS will get nowhere with this SCOTUS.
Do Garland and the President think they can change the minds of the political right? Perhaps the display of bravado comes from Garland’s name being floated once before in 2010 when John Paul Stevens retired from the Supreme Court. Analysis at that time suggested that the conservatives would support him and the liberals would oppose him.
During the early wars, soldiers sent into battle on the front line were assured almost certain death from the enemy’s cannons. These brave men were referred to as cannon fodder; they were expendable. Welcome to your new position, Judge Garland, as cannon fodder on the POTUS SCOTUS political battlefield.
Opinion by Bob Reinhard
Edited Jeanette Smith & Cathy Milne
US Office Court of Appeals DC Circuit: Judges
Conservative Action Project: Memo for the Movement/ Senate Republicans Are Resolute: Let the People Speak
The Cruz for President Campaign: We Should Not Vote on a Supreme Court Nominee Until the Next President is in Office
Washington Post: Potential Supreme Court Pick Garland Could Find Foes on Left
NBC NEWS: Meet the Press: McConnell: No Lame Duck Supreme Court Confirmation
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