As noted earlier, Obama went ahead in spite of the open obstruction of the Republican-led Senate and nominated someone to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court caused by the sudden passing of Antonin Scalia.
Obama tapped Merrick Garland of the DC Appellate Court to fill the position. Garland has been serving as a federal judge since 1997, two years after he'd been nominated because back then the Republican-controlled Senate was arguing over whether to fill any of Clinton's judicial vacancies at all. Yeah, we've been there...
So of course, Obama fulfilled his Constitutional obligation to fill Supreme Court vacancies as established in Article II Section 2 of the highest law in the land. Above that, he fulfilled his obligation to the American people to nominate a candidate with excellent credentials in Garland: a federal-level judge with over 18 years of experience and a record of jurisprudence that impresses a good number of legal experts.
And as expected, the Republicans are being total d-cks about it.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is refusing to meet with Garland at all, and the party leadership in that branch of Congress is likely to shut the doors to the committee rooms for even a hearing on this.
It's their own damn fault. They decided seven years ago to hold a line against Obama regardless of what Obama does. The Republicans went full obstructionist to deny him any possible victory, first to try and make him a One-Termer President, and then to make history view him as a Failed President.
And it hasn't really worked, has it? For all the failures Obama did endure thanks to that obstruction, the Republicans repeatedly caused more damage to themselves, hurting their own party leadership - hi, Castor! hi, Boehner! hi, Mitt! hi, Jeb? - and creating a toxic environment that's led to the Far Right wingnut base in near-revolt against their own party.
Yet the Republicans are screwed if they DIDN'T do this, when you consider this is an election year, and 20-some of the Republicans are up for re-election (I know Rubio dropped to run for the Presidency - HA! - so his seat is open, I'm not sure if there are others). And some of those Senators are facing primary challengers who are further to the Right than they are... and some of them are already losing. They can't afford to give anything to Obama now, having tried all these years to deny him. It'll kill them in the Primaries... just as much as this obstruction can kill them with Moderate voters in the General elections.
They've really caught themselves in a kind of lose-lose scenario.
As I noted over on Balloon-Juice:
1) It puts the Senate on the defensive in that there’s nothing legally objectionable to Garland. He’s served on the appellate court for more than a decade with few if any complaints. If they still refuse to even meet with him, it clearly puts the Republicans in a bad light during an election year, going against the polls that clearly show a majority – Republican voters included – who want the Senate to at least do their damn job to advise and consent.
2) It still shifts the dynamic of the Court (that is, if he actually gets approved). While Garland’s no liberal, he’s more aligned left-center than Kennedy (the current measuring stick of a Moderate justice). More 5-4 decisions will favor the Left over the Right.
3) Garland is not young, granted. If it was someone younger, the GOP would have an even bigger conniption knowing full well that would be a guy on the bench for 20+ years, not 10-15 years. There may be a few Senators who can convince themselves “this isn’t going to kill us a decade from now.”
4) Obama likely asked his candidates how many were willing to risk a year of waiting for the nomination. The younger ones likely begged out to wait for a better shot.
5) While Obama could have gone full “NO F-CKS TO GIVE”, he played it steady, reviewed the options, and presented a sane, respectable choice. This is still a “F-CK YOU” move on his part, though, because clearly the Republicans are going to go batsh-t insane no matter what he did (as I said elsewhere, that's the beauty of it. Obama stays cool, but the Republicans are going to view this as a F-CK YOU move and over-react. And they have...). At least this way he can’t be accused of intentionally messing with their heads by going for a Gay Asian Public Defender still six months away from a Law Degree from Berkeley Hippie Central who’s six months pregnant with a Muslim.
And then on a separate post:
This time might be different. Holding a SCOTUS vacancy hostage like this during an election year exposes too many Senators up for re-election. They can’t rely on gerrymandered safety: their entire state votes, and in Blue and Purple states the moderate and centrist voters are not going to be thrilled that ONE branch of government – CONGRESS – isn’t doing their job.
They can’t blame Obama for being in the wrong here, because he’s done everything by the book and nominated a candidate with genuine experience and legal gravitas (this isn’t a Meirs debacle, nor a Bork extremist). Meanwhile, it’s the Senate refusing to do their job and coming up with lame excuses – the “Biden rule?” the “Lame Duck” excuse? – that the majority of voters will not buy.
I hope to God the Democrats are running candidates in every Senate race this year. They might even win in a few solid Red states – both because of Trump killing the down-ticket and because of this – and regain control of the Senate with a Cloture-proof majority.
Please tell me every Senate seat is gonna be contested this year. Every single one, I hope to God the Democrats win all 34. Not just because of Trump but because enough voters across all our states wake up to which Party (Republicans) are in the wrong here.