That Merrick Garland Nomination-- Yuck!
Despite fulsome praise from the carefully orchestrated Democratic lapdog organizations, progressives are anything but impressed with Merrick Garland... although many progressives are impressed with President Obama's revitalization of his multi-dimensional chess game against the Senate Republicans. The video from Fox News above is important to watch if you want to follow and comprehend this kabuki theater as it unfolds over the next few months. As Fox's "senior judicial analyst," Judge Andrew Napolitano, explained above, "Garland is the consummate Washington, DC insider [and] the most conservative nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president in the modern era." By "modern era," he's talking about in any of our lifetimes.
Now everyone will be-- should be-- asking why Obama backed away from the already bad enough Sri Srinivasan-- who he had, after all, told all his allies he had decided on-- to choose Garland? Perhaps he is figuring (or something) that President Hillary-- or, most certainly President Bernie-- will not re-nominate him after the clumsy and hyper-partisan Republican Senate braggarts stumble awkwardly into rejecting him. Had Obama selected his first choice-- Srinivasan-- after the Republicans killed that nomination, Hillary wouldn't have had much choice other than to re-nominate him if she were elected along with a Democratic Senate. If progressives put up at least a bit of a fight against Garland's conservatism during the debate-- if there is a debate, which there should be-- she can safely pass over him and nominate someone much younger and more-- dare I say-- liberal... although more liberal than Garland covers a lot of ground.
It might be Hillary's inclination to go for, say, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, husband of long-time close Hillary crony Ann O'Leary. Some think, in fact, that it is that threat of Liu-- and his 40 liberal years on the Court, that may well lead to Grassley and McConnell changing their tune on the obstructionism dance they've been doing. So far two very at risk Republican senators, Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Mark Kirk (IL) plus Susan Collins (ME), have announced they will be meeting with Garland and giving his nomination due consideration. Republicans aren't obligated to confirm him but they are insane to treat him with any disrespect given his position as the Chief Justice of the DC Circuit Court which makes so many of the important decisions they care most about. McConnell, Hatch (who actually suggested Garland just last week), Flake, Graham, Cornyn and Grassley-- if not vicious ideologues and clods like Cruz, Sessions and Lee-- know better than to piss the guy off for no reason. I had to laugh when I read a statement from the Congressional Record-- albeit an old one-- from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to Grassley: "I am writing to ask your support and assistance in the confirmation process for a second cousin… Merrick Garland has had a distinguished legal career."
Don't expect DWT to be supportive of Garland-- although, obviously we respect the process. The White House and its lapdogs can fight this battle on their own while we highlight all Garland's horrible conservative decisions that have been so harmful to real people. It's important for progressives-- if not professional Democrats and those Beltway lapdogs of theirs, to make it clear to Hillary and Democratic senators that we expect more in a nominee, a lot more than Merrick Garland. Obama's fine in making the Republicans look like the unreasonable jackasses they are... so long as we don't get stuck with Garland in the process.
Bernie seems to be playing along. This was his statement a couple of hours ago: "Judge Garland is a strong nominee with decades of experience on the bench. My Republican colleagues have called Judge Garland a 'consensus nominee' and said that there is 'no question' he could be confirmed. Refusing to hold hearings on the president's nominee would be unprecedented. President Obama has done his job. It’s time for Republicans to do theirs. I call on Sen. Grassley to hold confirmation hearings immediately and for Leader McConnell to bring the nomination to floor of the Senate if Judge Garland is approved by the Judiciary Committee."
UPDATE: Don't Let Anyone Tell You Garland Is A Progressive
Mark Plotkin isn't high on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland and points out that a nominee's acceptability to Republicans-- with Garland has aplenty-- shouldn't be what motivates "a president to choose someone in particular. A president who takes that path is denigrating the process and making this most important appointment nothing more than a political deal." But what Plotkin is all worked up over is a case many people have never heard of, Alexander v. Daley.
The basis of the legal argument put forth by American University law professor Jamin Raskin, Assistant D.C. Corporation Counsel Walter Smith and attorneys Charles Miller, Evan Schultz and Tom Williamson of Covington & Burling-- as noted in a law review article co-authored by Raskin in Human Rights Brief-- was that the "denial of the D.C. community's right to be represented in the U.S. Congress violates the rights of Equal Protection, Due Process, a republican form of government, and the privileges and immunities of national citizenship-- all critical democratic guarantees of the U.S. Constitution."
What Garland did, along with another judge, was to rule against the citizens of D.C. In a tortured and simplistic opinion, he said that since D.C. was not a "state," its citizens should not be accorded the same rights as every other U.S. citizen. This opinion was the moral equivalent of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), saying that "separate but equal" was legal.
In my opinion, it was a classic illustration of voter suppression, using a phony legal justification for denying the vote to an entire group of U.S. citizens-- in this case, citizens of the nation's capital. That decision alone should disqualify him from consideration to the highest court in the land.
It is my opinion that Garland did not want to go out on a limb and favor anything so radical as providing the vote to over 600,000 disenfranchised citizens (76 percent of whom are registered as Democrats). You see, this opinion would be viewed as controversial and too liberal, and the last thing Garland wanted was to have those monikers attached to him.
So he carefully positioned himself on the "right" side so he could be viewed as viable if a chance for the Supreme Court ever presented itself. When it came to this decision, Garland, with all his impressive educational and professional credentials, chose to think of his own judicial advancement first.
At the very top of the Supreme Court, emblazoned in stone, are these simple words: "Equal justice under law." Merrick Garland decided to ignore and violate that sacred principle.