The new Supreme Court nominee

The new Supreme Court nominee March 17, 2016

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to take the late Antonin Scalia’s slot on the Supreme Court.  Garland is a well-regarded Appeals Court judge, clearly well-qualified and with a reputation for moderation.

Republicans in Congress are refusing to even consider him, insisting that any appointment should wait until after the presidential election.

But couldn’t we expect Hillary Clinton to nominate someone even more liberal?  And who would Trump nominate?  His pro-abortion sister, as he said he might?  Also, pundits are now saying that there is now a good chance that in an anti-Trump landslide Republicans might lose the Senate.  Republicans might do a lot worse than Garland.

Obama is obviously proposing Garland as a safe choice and a way to coax Republicans into allowing him his appointment.  And to look pettily partisan if they oppose a well-qualified candidate with the full panoply of opposition research and personal attacks, as is planned.

Republicans should just praise the nominee but stand on the principle of letting the next president choose.

President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court Wednesday morning means that at long last, the oft-short-listed candidate finally gets his shot.

Garland is the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997. A former clerk for Justice William Brennan, he’s served in private practice and at the Justice Department.

Garland, 63, was confirmed by a 76-23 vote. Obama previously considered him for the seats that ultimately went to Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. . . .

Garland is a “quintessential safe choice” from Obama, said Steve Vladeck, a law professor at American University Washington College of Law and CNN contributor.

He’s known more for the cases he’s prosecuted than the decisions he’s handed down from the bench, Vladeck said. But as a judge, he has a reputation for centrism more than for any particular approach to judging or ideological commitments.

“He’s not flashy. He doesn’t have some academic theory driving his jurisprudence but decides the cases one at a time as they come before him,” Vladeck said. He “tends not to go out of his way to say anything beyond the minimum necessary to decide the case.”

It would be “simply impossible” for Senate Republicans to oppose Garland on the merits, Vladeck said.

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