Barack Obama yesterday nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. It is the president’s duty to nominate Supreme Court justice “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” according to Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. By making that nomination, Barack Obama has fulfilled a constitutional duty. Does that mean that the Senate has the constitutional duty to consider the president’s nomination, as many have asserted? There is nothing in the Constitution that says that it does. The Senate has the legal right to be as obstructionist as it chooses.
Legally, when the Republicans refuse to consider the president’s nominee, they are on firm ground. They may have a moral duty to consider the nominee, as I believe they do, but the Constitution does not require them to behave as adults.
Will the Senate consider Garland Merrick for appointment to the Supreme Court despite repeated assertions from various Republican senators that it will not? I believe it will, although perhaps not until after the primary elections have decided the nominees for the office of president. If Hilary Clinton is the next president, as appears increasingly likely, she may nominate a liberal to the Supreme Court. The Republicans would be well advised to settle for the moderate whom Barack Obama has chosen.
I have read that most Americans want the Senate to take up the nomination. If the Republicans in the Senate refuse to do so, they will make themselves even more unpopular with the American voters than they already are. The Republican control of the Senate is on shaky ground and not only due to the Republicans obstructionist, public-be-dammed attitude toward their duty. If Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, many Republican voters may stay home on election day, which could result in some Republicans losing their Senate seats. Add in the general public disgust with the Republican Senators’ putting their own welfare ahead of the country’s, and the likelihood of the Republicans’ losing their control of the Senate increases.
Come on, Republicans! Stop being so stubbornly dogmatic and do your job! It is not only in the public interest, it is in the interest of your party.
Finally, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone.