President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 16 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Though Garland is well respected by both parties, Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings on the nominee. Regardless of political affiliation, Republicans may want to reconsider their stance considering the amiable nature of Obama’s nominee.
Garland is well regarded among the GOP. Just a week prior to Obama announcing his pick, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told Newsmax, “(Obama) could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man. He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the (liberal Democratic base) wants.”
Yet here we are. Obama stuck to his word and offered a moderate as his nominee, and the Republican senators find themselves backpedaling to justify their boycott.
In 1997, Garland was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. with majority support from both parties in the Senate with a 76 to 23 vote.
His experience speaks for itself with years dedicated to overseeing monumental cases, including many of the largest domestic terror cases in U.S. history, such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber.
Supreme Court justices are not intended to represent a political party. Their job is to uphold the law based on the Constitution.
According to Chief Justice John Roberts, personal opinions need to be put aside.
“We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans, and I think it’s a very unfortunate impression the public might get from the confirmation process,” Roberts said 10 days before Scalia’s death.
Republicans are scared. They fear having an unbalanced court stacked against them. Personal opinions should not affect the judges’ discernment of the law. Yet, political parties will always fight tooth and nail to have the majority in office.
However, it’s time to be realistic. There is no guarantee the Republican Party will win the presidency. Holding out in hopes a Republican candidate makes it to office is a serious gamble.
Obama is offering a proven moderate, one renowned for not being afraid to cross party lines. He’s not a conservative, but that doesn’t mean he won’t agree with the sitting Republican justices on their interpretation of the law.
There could not be a better nominee than Garland. The Democrats respect him, and the Republicans have praised him for years. He will be key in ensuring the decisions made by the Court will not heavily favor either side.
“The role of the court is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it — not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinions on the issues of the day,” Garland said in his hearing for the D.C. Circuit Court in 1995.
Garland spent his career proving he values the law and seeks to uphold it truthfully and without an ulterior agenda. Republicans know what they’re getting with him. That may not be the case if they continue to refuse to even hold a hearing.
Come November, a new president will be elected, and there is a very good chance that president will not be as kind as Obama regarding the nomination. Both Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would probably nominate someone much more liberal if chosen for office.
Plus, the GOP has its own candidates to worry about. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is no longer in the race. Instead, wild card Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are the frontrunners for the election, and Trump has already begun speculating which loon he would put in office if given the chance.
Do Republicans really want to rely on their candidates to make a reasonable choice?
Confirm Garland. He may be a Democrat, but at least he’s proven to be sensible and willing to work with both sides of the political spectrum.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.