Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Senate Must Vote on Judge Garland's Nomination

While pursuing Facebook yesterday, I came across a post from Michelle Malkin on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The post was a link to an article in the Conservative Review simply entitled, "What Conservatives Need to Know About Merrick Garland."  When I clicked the link, I was shocked to find a one word answer as the first paragraph of the article. It simply said, "Nothing."

Author Brian Darling's analysis didn't get much more informative. The crux of his argument was that because Judge Garland was nominated by President Obama, he is a liberal and will tip the balance on the Supreme Court in favor of the liberals. 

I was shocked because even though I consider myself a Republican with conservative leanings, my reaction to President Obama's pick was far different. I was surprised by how non-controversial the appointment would be. 

Judge Garland has sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit since 1997.  He is currently the Chief Judge.  Because of the location of the DC Circuit, it is the court that tends to hear cases involving Federal policy most often. The court is often considered a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. 

In addition, Judge Garland is a former prosecutor who is 63 years old. Not only has he worked in law enforcement, he is not likely to stick around the Supreme Court for a very long time. 

At this point, conservatives point to two cases in which he was involved to ring the alarm bells that he will rob us all of our gun rights. The first is the case that overturned the District of Columbia's gun control law. The case was decided by a three judge panel, and Judge Garland voted for the case to be reheard en banc, which means in front of all of the judges of the DC Circuit. 

The second was a case where Judge Garland agreed that the FBI could retain gun purchase records for six months to ensure that a computerized background check was working. 

Neither case hardly says anything about the Judge's views on the Second Amendment. Yet it is enough that Judge Garland acted in a way displeasing to the NRA for conservatives to mobilize opposition by engaging in the Second Amendment fear mongering. 

Conservatives are mourning the loss of Justice Antonin Scalia. The prospect that his seat on the Supreme Court could be filled by an Obama appointee is just devastating to them. Thus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the unprecedented step of announcing that there would be no hearings on any Obama nomination. Instead, the choice would be left to the new president. President Obama has countered with the nomination of a highly respected jurist, who is not likely to stay around for a very long time. The result is that Senate Republicans look far worse than just merely obstructionists. They look like whiny, petulant children. 

One of the most frightening characteristics of the Tea Party movement, and its influence on the Republican Party, has been the uncompromising willingness to shut down normal government functions in the name of promoting conservatism. Faced with very little on the record to challenge a nominee who appears to be eminently qualified, the conservatives resort to fear mongering. Senate leaders should not play this game. Rather, they should do their constitutional duty of allowing the full Senate to give advice and consent by holding hearings on Judge Garland, and sending his nomination to the floor for a vote. 

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