Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution:
He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate National Rifle Association, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Councils, Judges of the supreme Court … (Emphasis added)
Last Wednesday, 16 March 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick B. Garland to be the 113th Supreme Court Justice. Let me tell you a bit about Judge Garland.
Judge Garland is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since 1997. Garland graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. After serving as a law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States, he practiced corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers. In 1995, Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and (following a delay in Senate confirmation) took the bench in 1997. In 2009 and 2010, Garland was considered by President Barack Obama for two openings on the Supreme Court.
Yet, despite an illustrious judicial career, the odds of him being confirmed by the Senate this year are slim. Why? Basically because the republican-controlled Senate, has vowed that they will do all in their power to block any nomination that President Obama makes, regardless how qualified that person may be. The biggest slap in the face to We The People, the citizens and taxpayers of this nation, however, came from Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday when he stated that he “Can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm … a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.” Excuse me, Mr. McConnell, but neither of those organizations represent my interests nor support my ideology, and I RESENT THAT THEY HAVE CONTROL OVER MY GOVERNMENT! Yes, I am yelling and my fingers are pounding the keyboard at warp speed as I type this!
Deep breaths now … in … out … in … out …
In 1997, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a highly respected senator who has served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on three separate occasions, said, in regards to Merrick Garland, “Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned… His legal experience is equally impressive… Accordingly, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally, I know of his integrity, I know of his legal ability, I know of his honesty, I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court. I believe he is not only a fine nominee, but is as good as Republicans can expect from this administration. In fact, I would place him at the top of the list.” And in 2010, when Judge Garland was being considered as a nominee to the Supreme Court, Mr. Hatch again praised him, saying that Garland is, “A consensus nominee… I have no doubts that Garland would get a lot of votes. And I will do my best to help him get them… He would be very well supported by all sides and the president knows that.” So where’s the beef? Simply this … republican congressmen have decided to ignore their constituency, the vast majority of whom are in support of the Supreme Court vacancy being filled as quickly as possible, and refuse to do their job. Why? Who knows? I suspect simply to show President Obama that they can. It is a playground mentality and I thought we could expect better from our elected officials. I was wrong.
President Obama did not choose to nominate a liberal-leaning judge to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. He intentionally chose a moderate nominee who is well-respected by both sides. He also did not choose a young man who could conceivably serve 20, 30, or even 40 years on the bench. He did everything in his power to nominate a judge who would be acceptable to both democrats and republicans, as he realizes the importance of filling the vacancy. It is too bad our senators are not equally intelligent.
Senators earn, at a minimum, $174,000, which does not include the value of various perks and additional monies they “earn”, meaning that on average a senator is paid somewhere in the ballpark of $200,000 plus benefits, per year. This is more than ten times what I earn for a year, and I am betting it is significantly more than anyone reading this blog earns in a year. Understand that I have no problem with that – my intent here is not to complain, as some do, that congressmen and women are overpaid. When they do their job and act responsibly on behalf of We The People, they earn every penny. Rather, my point is that this year, at least, most republican senators, are failing in their jobs. They are putting their hands in their pockets and saying, basically, “Screw the American people. I am not going to do my job until after November.” Think about it this way … we are the employer, they are the employee. If you told your employer that you refuse to do the job for which you were hired, would you still be employed next week? I think not.
I find it interesting that one argument these negligent senators give as their excuse for not considering Judge Garland is the “right of the people to have a say”. We The People had our say in 2008 and again in 2012, when the majority of voters in this nation selected President Obama to lead our nation. To refuse to even hold hearings to review this nomination is blatant refusal to do the jobs for which they are highly compensated, at our expense. There may be no solution this year, as we have spoken and the republicans in the senate have turned a deaf ear to us. But we do have recourse. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are 24 republican senators up for re-election this November. I call on the voting public to ensure that not a single one of them retain their seats. It is the only way to send a message to congress, a message that reminds them that We The People can put them in office or take them out.