There is now a poster-boy in the struggle to nominate a new Supreme Court justice, replacing Scalia’s vacancy.Wednesday morning, President Obama announced that he is nominating Merrick B. Garland, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in D.C. Garland has been praised by some for his central position on many issues, which was a deliberate move by Pres. Obama to take away fuel from the Republican Party’s fire. Sen. Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders have already announced this morning that they will continue to block the process and will not hold confirmation hearings or even meet with Garland. An article in the New York Times today argues that this could easily become the most contested nomination in U.S. history.
An interesting thing about this is the heavy involvement from groups on both sides of the issue. There are already major rallies and social media campaigns planned by people hoping they’ll wait until a new president is elected and by people wanting action by Congress to confirm a nominee. A spokesman for Heritage Action, working with Republicans says “the unity on the right is pretty remarkable and encouraging,” because the party is holding strongly to their stance against filling the vacancy this year. Democratic political activists are teaming up and spreading “a single message to the Senate nationwide: #DoYourJob.” It is a movement of more than 30 groups that have come together to fight back. The level of cooperation required for that is pretty remarkable. But, this issue shows just how polar our political system has become. People have to be willing to step outside of their own parties to work together as elected officials. The leader of the group Americans United for Change hopes that, as pressure is applied to Republicans, they will “see the majority slipping out of [their] hands and… will relent.” Both sides believe that their stance on the issue will appeal to their supporters, but then the system of democracy loses. President Obama said if the Senate doesn’t “give [Garland] a fair hearing… it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.” On the other side of the conflict, Mr. McConnell continually says, “Our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.” Didn’t they already have a voice in that? Didn’t the American people elect a president in 2012 knowing, if a vacancy came up in the Supreme Court during the next four years, it would President Obama who would have to fill it? Congress needs to stop posturing and puffing out their chests and actually do the job they, too, were elected for. Stalling and fighting against Constitutional processes wasn’t it.