After Several Fake-Outs, Obama Nominates Liberal Judge For Vacant Supreme Court Slot
Up until his Wednesday announcement, President Obama had managed to baffle Court watchers, as well as the senators obligated to provide their advice and eventual consent to his nominee to fill the vacancy in the Court after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.
As recently as Sunday, when Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said in an interview with Newsmax, “The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate, but I don’t believe him,” it was evident that Obama was practicing reverse psychology as much as evaluating his choice for the high court.
Hatch summed up the belief of many when he predicted Obama would pass up Merrick Garland, who the Utah conservative called, “a fine man,” because, “this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”
On Wednesday morning, after announcing his brackets for the March Madness college basketball tournament – an annual tradition from this administration almost on par with the State of the Union address – President Obama introduced his nominee to the Supreme Court: Merrick Garland.
The 63-year-old Harvard Law alumnus has served as a Clinton appointment on the DC Circuit Court for almost two-decades and is rated as ideologically to the left of every sitting justice with the exception of Sonia Sotomayor and in virtually the same position as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Obama’s move comes as the Republican-led Senate has vowed to defer conducting hearings or voting on any nomination from the lame-duck president during an election year.
Drawing on strong statements made by Vice-President Joe Biden who argued against confirming a new justice during the last year of a presidential term when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987-1995. Similar statements from then-Senator Barack Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) support the position.
Article II of the Constitution is clear as to the president’s obligation: He “shall nominate Judges of the Supreme Court,” qualifying that directive with the phrase, “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,” but without providing more specific instruction as to a timeframe for the process or a description of what form the “advice” should take.
In this case, the Senate has fulfilled its obligation by offering its advice to the president; now it remains to be seen if he takes it.