Wednesday, April 06, 2016

One Reason Why a GOP Senate Won't Even Allow Garland In the Room

There was once not so long ago a strong, unified stand by the Republican Senators to obstruct Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court vacancy.

And like all Republican efforts against Obama, it's falling apart.

The calls by individual GOP Senators - each of them facing hard questions from their states back home - to at least give Garland a hearing in committee are picking up. It's not a wave of defecting Senators - so far it's just a quarter of them - but they're starting to be heard by the mainstream media because some of them like Maine's Susan Collins is a favorite guest to the green rooms:

Since former Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, McConnell has pledged to block any Obama-nominated justice by not holding hearings, meetings, or a floor vote.
But Collins is pushing back. In an interview with Newsradio WGAN in Maine on Tuesday, she explained why she disagrees with McConnell’s strategy to fill the empty Supreme Court seat...

At one point, Collins said she was "perplexed" by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's outright refusal to give Garland even a perfunctory hearing.

Well, there's a very good reason for that.

If the Senate actually did give Garland a hearing, they'd be screwed.

The problem becomes one of optics: the second Garland gets grilled by the Senate, even by Republicans, it will be made clear to the voting public paying attention to these things that there would be no objectionable reason for voting against Garland.

Garland is no courtroom extremist. He's not a Bork-in-waiting, where questionable judicial opinions would quickly reveal an unstable or partisan hack who would rule from the bench without proper judicial restraint. He's not another Harriet Miers, someone with more office manager experience than courtroom experience.

That's where Obama wins this: Garland has a decades-long record as an Appellate judge with a sizable case history. While the Republicans can attack him on the politics of his decisions - anything pro-choice, or pro-union, or pro-civil rights for example - they cannot hurt him on the merits of judicial experience.

Senator Collins thinks she may be able to be fair enough at her job to give Garland the chance at an up-or-down vote, as stated in that ThinkProgress article:

Shortly after Scalia’s death in February, Collins said she would give her “full attention” to whoever President Obama decided to nominate. After Garland’s official nomination earlier this month, Collins urged her fellow Republicans to “follow regular order” and go through the nomination process, even if it meant rejecting Garland in the end...

But it's harder than it looks rejecting a candidate for a position when that candidate is clearly qualified.

And the Republicans do not want to get stuck with the bad optics of voting down a respected, qualified jurist all because he happens to be nominated by a President (Obama) they openly despise.

This is a lose-lose kind of deal. The Republicans are clearly hurting themselves by denying Garland even a moment to prove himself on the public stage that he can serve as a SCOTUS Justice. But they'll still look like partisan hacks if they hold a hearing on C-SPAN and then reject Garland along party lines: Because that would prove Democrats right about how the Republicans don't care about what works, only about hurting Obama.

So they're taking the least-painful option: outright denying Garland. They can pretend they're doing so because of "tradition" of preventing lame-duck Presidents doing their job, they can pretend that Garland doesn't merit a hearing, they can plug their fingers in their ears and go "la-la-la" and go onto Bill O'Reilly and accuse Obama of playing partisan games.

Because the alternative is to prove to everyone else that Obama's really not playing partisan games, he's doing his job.

And the Republicans in the Senate are not.

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

I would have wanted someone younger and more liberal, but I always want that. Garland seems serious and qualified, and everyone who has met him seems to like him, so he could most likely get along with the other justices well enough to do an excellent job. For his sake, I hope he gets confirmed.
Too bad the Republicans can't see this for what it is: another example of how their extreme ideology interferes with the actual running of the country.

=Doug in Oakland