In just 48 hours, 55 newspaper editorial boards have called on Senate Republicans to do their job and give due consideration to President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.
In an interview with NPR, President Obama laid out what's at stake for our politics as a whole if Republicans obstruct the Supreme Court nomination process:
"But people are following the fact that, increasingly, our political institutions are broken — and it troubles them. And this becomes I think a symbol of a process that, if Republicans stick to their current posture, promises a tit-for-tat process in which we will never have a clean nomination process on the merits, and presidents — whether they're Democrats or Republicans — are only going to be able to get their nominees through when they have their own party controlling the Senate.
"At that point, the judiciary becomes a pure extension of politics. And that damages people's faith in the judiciary — because everybody understands that there's some politics involved in appointing judges, but we also expect that the judicial system can rise above the political process."
He also noted Judge Garland's qualifications as a consensus builder would serve the Supreme Court:
"This moment in our history — a time when judicial nominations have become so contentious, a time when our politics is so full of vitriol — I think particularly benefits from a man who by all accounts is decent, full of integrity, is someone who tries to hear the other side's point of view, and can build bridges.
"And so although I've always believed that he would make an outstanding Supreme Court justice, it is my belief that now more than ever his voice would serve the court well, would help to burnish the sense that the Supreme Court is above politics and not just an extension of politics, and would set a good tone for restoring — or at least increasing — the American people's confidence in our justice system."
"If you tried to create the ideal moderate Supreme Court nominee in a laboratory, it would be hard to do better than Judge Merrick Garland. In nominating Judge Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, President Obama has taken his constitutional duty seriously, choosing a deeply respected federal appellate judge with an outstanding intellect, an impeccable legal record, and the personal admiration of Republicans and Democrats."
The case against Mr. Garland — well, there is not much of a case against him. He is unusually well-respected across the ideological spectrum. He worked his way up in the Justice Department as a prosecutor, gaining respect for supervising terrorism cases, before joining the federal bench. He was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 76 to 23 in 1997, and several sitting senators should remember voting for him. One, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), was once quoted as calling him a “consensus nominee.” During his time on the D.C. Circuit, Mr. Garland has gained a reputation for thoughtfulness. He is an ideal nominee in these divided times.
"There are at least two criteria on which to judge President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. First are his qualifications. Second is the ideological space that he would occupy on a polarized court in a polarized political environment. Garland is a superb choice on both counts."
"Neither side comes to this fight with clean hands. But blocking consideration of a Supreme Court nominee, one who appears to have impeccable credentials and fall within the broad judicial mainstream, for almost an entire year will only invite similar retribution when the situation is reversed. Garland deserves better. The country deserves better."
"The stubborn refusal of Senate Republicans to consider any Supreme Court nominee offered by President Obama would be outrageous, regardless of whom the president selected to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. But Obama's announcement Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge who has won bipartisan praise during a long and distinguished legal career, puts the Republicans' irresponsibility and cheap partisanship in even starker relief."
"In 2005 after John Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush, this space noted he was a jurist with a keen intellect and an open mind. “This is a man who in the best traditions of the Supreme Court will grow on the job,” we wrote. We could say the same of Merrick B. Garland, the federal judge nominated by President Barack Obama on Wednesday to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia."
"Maybe we should start calling John McCain the upside down senator? It's getting more and more difficult to keep up with the flip flops. When Merrick B. Garland was nominated to be a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1997 he was confirmed by a vote of 76-23. Seven of the Republicans who voted to confirm Garland are still in the senate. Among them is McCain."
"Merrick Garland is a superb nomination by President Obama to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit is a moderate who is widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans for his integrity, judgment, intellect and basic decency. It would be a irresponsible for Republicans in the U.S. Senate to withhold consideration of Garland's nomination for strictly political reasons."
"President Barack Obama has named an eminently qualified and highly respected judge, Merrick Garland, as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. If you read his background, if you look at the legal opinions he has written in the 18 years he has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, you will find him to be a good person with a great legal mind. He is a nominee that meets all of our criteria for someone who will raise the legal and intellectual level of the Supreme Court."
"By nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional obligation. It’s time for the U.S. Senate to do the same. Garland, the chief judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, deserves a confirmation hearing and a vote."
"It is, McConnell claimed, a matter of principle. It’s not. It is obstructionist politics at its base and gives voters yet more cause for disgust with the state of discourse in Washington. Senators are supposed to provide advice and consent. Rejection is a prerogative. But McConnell’s refusal to even meet with a qualified nominee and respected jurist drives the process further into dysfunction."
"President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional obligation Wednesday by nominating an obviously well-qualified jurist to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by restating his intransigent stand that the Republican-controlled Senate would not deign to meet with the nominee, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court for the D.C. circuit, the nation’s most prestigious appellate court."
"This is the final year of Obama's presidency and Republican senators have insisted they will not hold hearings on any nominee. Yet even if they stick to that pledge — and they likely will — the nomination of Merrick Garland ought to give them pause. It ought to give them pause if for no other reason than the fact that their party appears headed toward the potentially disastrous choice of Donald Trump as presidential nominee, a candidate who will be a difficult sell to the general electorate."
"Elected officials like McConnell and Vitter say they’re beholden to the best interests of the American people. If, through hearings, it emerged that Merrick Garland was not fit for the highest court in our land, we would be the first to thank legislators like McConnell and Vitter for shining a light on the President’s erroneous nomination. But, by refusing to do their jobs, McConnell, Vitter and the other obstructionists are serving only to get their names engraved on some sort of monument to bluster."
"Judge Garland is a sitting appeals court judge with a much admired record and a history of bipartisan support who has managed to win Senate approval for the bench while drawing virtually no criticism. Over the years, Republicans have praised his record and suitability for the bench."
"President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating an experienced, well-regarded appeals court judge to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now the Senate should do its job by holding hearings and voting on whether to confirm Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans who continue to act as obstructionists and ignore the president's nomination for political reasons are eroding public confidence in the legal system and abdicating their constitutional responsibility."
"Let's remind the Senate that there's another principle here — the principle of doing the job you were elected to do, the job you are paid to do. And part of that job is to fulfill the Senate's duty to advise and consent — or not consent, but at least debate — on presidential nominations for the Supreme Court."
"Senate President Mitch McConnell and his colleagues in with the nomination of Garland, a well-regarded moderate judge who is a strong law-and-order advocate. At 63 he is older than most court nominees, which looks to be a calculated concession to Republicans by Obama. Garland earned a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor and astutely supervised the Justice Department’s response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing before being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where his legal acumen is highly regarded."
"President Barack Obama has exercised his constitutional responsibility by nominating a judge, Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court, following the death of Antonin Scalia. Now, it’s the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to hold a confirmation hearing to determine his fate. Unfortunately, Iowa’s own Sen. Chuck Grassley has once again put his foot down, declaring the Senate Republicans won’t hold a hearing, much less a vote. His willful insistence on leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court will, in essence, neuter the court for a year."
"In nominating Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised the Illinois native as a judge "widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence." Over nearly two decades of service on a federal court of appeals, Garland has won nearly universal admiration."
"It’s a shame that a fundamentally decent man is about to become a victim of indecent politics. By virtually all accounts, President Obama’s nominee to fill the Scalia vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, is eminently qualified. A majority of Senate Republicans said so themselves in 1997 when he was confirmed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, where he has served since and now is the chief judge. Seven of those Republicans remain in the chamber, including Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who recently expressed his admiration for Garland in predicting — wrongly, as it turns out — that Obama would pick someone far more liberal."
"That is contained in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Since it was ratified 226 years ago, it has clearly outlined how U.S. Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and voted on by the Senate. But on Wednesday, both U.S. senators from Kansas announced they were no longer interested in abiding by those words."
"The authority and obligations that come with the presidency apply all four years. That includes filling U.S. Supreme Court openings. So it’s disappointing that Senate Republicans aren’t even pretending to take seriously President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, the 63-year-old chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit."
"Senators who have backed McConnell’s stance, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, also need to reconsider. Both are running for reelection in swing states. As it was, their refusal to consider Obama’s nominee was a disservice to their own constituents, who picked Obama in 2012. Now their failure to repudiate Trump, coupled with their insistence that the next president choose Scalia’s replacement, looks an awful lot like an endorsement of Trump’s fitness to pick the next justice."
"President Obama has done his job in nominating a respected, experienced centrist judge as the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice. Now it is up to Senate Republicans to do their job and give him a hearing. In nominating Merrick B. Garland, a well-known appeals court judge who is highly respected in Washington, the president has put the pressure squarely on the Republicans, who immediately politicized the death of Justice Antonin Scalia by declaring that they would not conduct hearings on the president's nominee, let alone take a vote. This would put them in clear violation of their responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution, a document Republicans claim to cherish except for when they find it inconvenient."
"President Obama’s Supreme Court pick shows both a level of seriousness about the work of the court and the confirmation process — and his unerring political instinct in finding a nominee Republicans should be ashamed to deny a fair hearing."
"Voters had two opportunities to decide – in 2008 and again in 2012. And each time, they picked Obama. To give voters the benefit of the doubt and assume that most of them understand that presidents select nominees for the court, they've already made their call. The fact is, Republicans don't want Obama to name Scalia's successor. End of story."
"Are Republicans so determined to appear willful that they'd sacrifice a national election? President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, the widely-respected, centrist chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, may be regarded as an apolitical choice — if only because the former federal prosecutor is hardly the dream pick of his party's progressive wing. But in reality, the political implications are substantial: Should Republicans fulfill their threat to not even hold hearings on the nominee, they demonstrate the party's true Achilles heel, an inability to compromise or put the nation's interests ahead of their own."
"Merrick Garland, a federal appeals court judge with indisputable credentials and a reputation as a centrist, is as good as the Republican Senate can expect from a Democratic president. Actually, he’s much better than they expected. Sen. Orin Hatch, chair of the Judiciary Committee, just last week said Garland was the type of nominee Obama should submit, but predicted he wouldn’t."
"Obstructionist GOP senators are vowing to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick B. Garland to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Voters should watch closely whether Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt treats this nomination with the respect and seriousness it deserves or gives priority to partisan maneuvering."
"President Barack Obama has acted in the spirit of compromise with his choice of Merrick B. Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans will expose themselves as naked obstructionists if they refuse to follow suit and hold hearings. Garland is a universally respected centrist judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit."
"Sen. Steve Daines chose politics over doing his job when he marched in lockstep with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pompously announced that he would not even meet with Merrick Garland, a centrist and a formidable legal scholar who has been almost universally praised for his judgment, hard work, judicial temperament and even-handedness."
"In Merrick Garland, President Obama has nominated an eminently qualified jurist for the nation’s highest court. As the well-respected chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – commonly called the nation’s second highest court – one could argue that Garland is the most qualified jurist Obama could have picked."
"Judge Merrick Garland, a Chicago native, qualifies on all counts and deserves to be confirmed by the United States Senate to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. That Garland might be denied not only a seat but even a hearing after his nomination by President Obama would be an outrage. It would be an affront not just to Obama, whom Republican leaders have vowed to stymie at every turn, but to the Constitution. The president is charged with filling vacancies on the Supreme Court, and Obama, with almost a year left in his term, is doing his duty."
"By nominating Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court, President Barack Obama took firm command of the principled high ground in American governance. If Senate Republicans stick to their vow to not even hold hearings to consider his nomination they’ll set a new low for partisanship."
"The Constitution says presidents “shall nominate” Supreme Court justices, who are approved “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Yet Senate GOP leaders this year want to wait until after the November election and refuse to even meet with, much less vote on, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. … The important thing is to allow a vote to be held — regardless of whether the outcome is approval or disapproval. Otherwise, the Senate sends the disappointing message that it’s failed to learn a needed lesson from the recent past."
"But Ayotte is no longer taking a stand for the American people, as she claims; she is blocking a hearing for a judge who is widely respected among Republicans and Democrats alike, and obstructing the proper function of the U.S. Supreme Court."
"Ayotte has on occasion broken ranks with her party’s leadership. Not very often, but often enough to be of note, and almost always on issues in which party leaders’ positions ran contrary to those of New Hampshire’s business or environmental interests. This is an instance in which she needs to buck McConnell and call for action on the nomination of Garland. In actively choosing not to do her job, she runs the risk that, come November, voters will mimic Donald Trump, saying 'You’re fired!'"
"Republican leaders want us to believe they are blocking President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court for lofty reasons, for the sake of democracy itself. "Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy," says Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). "We should let the American people decide the direction of the court," says Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). Just one problem with this pitch: The American people did have a say. They elected Obama twice, knowing he would have the power to make these nominations."
"Rather than pick a partisan liberal to incite the Republican Senate, Obama has done something almost surprising in this age of bickering and gridlock. On Wednesday, Obama announced that he is nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland, without question, has outstanding legal credentials, although he must be held to the highest scrutiny — as is customary with any lifetime appointment."
"If Senator Portman maintains his lockstep partisan obstructionism, Ohio voters will need to keep that in mind this Election Day. Polls suggest that most Ohioans want the high court vacancy filled this year. There is no reason to link a Senate vote to the outcome of the presidential election."
"There is absolutely no reason for the Senate not to have hearings on Merrick Garland, who President Obama nominated to the Supreme Court Wednesday. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, just last week essentially dared Obama to nominate Garland, saying the president “could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” under the assumption Obama was going to nominate an unconfirmable liberal rather than a well-respected jurist with bipartisan support."
"Neither the Constitution nor the Federalist Papers mentions an election-year exception — a point that ought to matter to admirers of Scalia, a leading proponent of the idea that government should adhere to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Senate Republicans’ problem is not with Garland, but with Obama. The Senate, including a majority of Republicans, confirmed Garland to the appeals court in 1997 by a 76-23 vote."
"There is no valid reason, based on merit, to prevent Judge Garland from succeeding the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell, having woefully failed in his stated objective of making Mr. Obama a one-term president, are trying to invalidate the last year of Mr. Obama’s second term by creating the longest Supreme Court vacancy in history. The Republican National Committee actually has established a “war room” to denigrate Judge Garland as if he were a political candidate. Expect a flurry of negative ads. Mr. Toomey should extract himself from this obstructionist strategy and exercise leadership in behalf of the country by advocating an open and honest confirmation process."
"The stakes are too high to treat the appointment of a Supreme Court justice like a game of poker. Garland should be granted a fair hearing because that is the Senate's constitutional role in this process. Regardless of Obama's political motives, he has nominated someone who appears to be strongly suited for the position."
"President Barack Obama did his duty under the Constitution by submitting to the Senate his nominee — Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Senate, despite its Republican leaders’ vow to do otherwise, must now perform its role and take up the appointment."
"President Barack Obama has done his duty and nominated a qualified federal judge to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Now it is time for the Senate to do the same. Judge Merrick Garland deserves, as any reasonable nominee deserves, a full hearing and a vote. For the Republicans who control the Senate to do less is to shame themselves and the institution they represent. It is to neglect their duty, insult their president, and weaken this democracy’s faith in justice. It would ultimately weaken the very rule of law."
"In short, Obama is fulfilling his constitutional duty with Garland’s nomination and the Senate must fulfill its duty, as well. To refuse consideration of Garland is to abrogate a fundamental and constitutional Senate duty in favor of politics."
"Does the Constitution contemplate a popular vote as part of the process of filling a Supreme Court seat? No, and the Founders were quite deliberate in that decision. They constructed a court intended to be above the political fray, not subject to popular opinion that might be fleeting and not beholden to either of the other two branches of government."
"Clearly it is Republicans who have made the nomination process into a toxic, partisan firestorm. Utah's other senator, Mike Lee, has been more on the leading edge of this passive aggressive tactic. Hatch, who is plenty old enough to know better, should be the one to take his more hotheaded colleagues aside and counsel them to show some statesmanship, wait to see who the president nominates, have a hearing and then, if they find the candidate unsuitable, vote accordingly."
"By all accounts, Garland is eminently qualified for the country’s highest court. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch even floated Garland’s name a few days ago: “The president told me several times he’s going to name a moderate, but I don’t believe him,” Hatch said. “He could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.” Hatch said he expected Obama would instead nominate someone more liberal."
"BY ALL ACCOUNTS, Merrick Garland is a talented, experienced, moderate jurist, someone who would be an excellent addition to the U.S. Supreme Court. So it is nothing short of an indictment of today’s politics that he might not receive due consideration by the U.S. Senate."
"PRESIDENT Obama appears to have made a wise choice in nominating Merrick Garland, a respected judge and former prosecutor, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Showing far less wisdom are Republican Senate leaders refusing to consider his nomination. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., their bullheaded, petty partisanship further undermines Americans’ respect for Congress and faith in their political system."
"Never mind that Biden was making reference to a hypothetical vacancy on the court, one that was rumored but didn't occur that year. Never mind that as judiciary chairman, Biden made certain that every actual Supreme Court nomination presented to him got a hearing, a committee vote and a floor vote."
"Now that President Barack Obama has done his job and nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Sen. Ron Johnson and his fellow Republicans in the Senate need to do theirs and give the nominee a hearing. GOP senators, including Johnson, have said the next appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the next president of the United States. They're wrong on that. The people elected Obama to a full four-year term in 2012, not a three-year term. He is still the president with obligations to fulfill, and he's fulfilling them. The Senate should do the same."
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