GOP senators up for re-election shut door on Garland nomination

Well, that didn’t take long. Before President Obama had even finished wrapping up his press conference announcing his nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Republican senators had gotten busy insisting that, no, they wouldn’t even consider this judicial equivalent of a piece of Wonderbread toast for confirmation to the court.

The Republicans’ response to Garland hasn’t even bothered to take issue with the nominee’s judicial record. The GOP Senators really did mean it when they said that they wouldn’t confirm anyone until after the November election, no matter what. As the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion lobbying group, explained “We do not know this nominee, but we do know Barack Obama.”

That’s always been all they needed to know.

GOP senators weigh in against Garland

Here are a few Republican Senators’ immediate reactions to the nomination. Note how they range from completely ignoring Garland to tacitly admitting that they don’t have a problem with him as a jurist. Also note that each of these Senators are up for re-election in 2016 in states that aren’t exactly deep red:

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The only exceptions to this rule, so far, have been Mark Kirk (who defeated a primary challenger yesterday) and Jeff Flake. Kirk said earlier today that he would at least consider Garland’s record and qualifications before (probably) voting no. For his part, Flake has previously said that he’d “meet with anybody.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was somewhat more creative in his argument, saying that he won’t consider Garland’s nomination because President Obama nominated him “not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for the purpose of the election.”

Mitch McConnell, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Mitch McConnell, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

So the gentleman from Kentucky objects because the process has become politicized. How adorable. And who, praytell, politicized the process in the first place?

The Republicans are playing into Obama’s hands on Garland

You know what? Nevermind. Have fun making the case to the American people that you’d rather let Donald Trump appoint Gary Busey (or Sarah Palin) to the Supreme Court than grant President Obama the opportunity to confirm a judge who your own Judiciary Committee chair has described as a “consensus pick.”

This response was entirely predictable, and is exactly why Obama chose to nominate “a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise” instead of an actual liberal in the mold of Elana Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor (who Obama picked over Garland in 2010 to replace John Paul Stevens). He knew his nominee wasn’t going to get a fair hearing, so he picked a nominee whose rejection couldn’t be viewed as anything other than craven partisan obstruction.

If they won’t consider an old white guy from Harvard Law whose most notable judicial decisions involve siding against criminal defendants and foreign detainees, they won’t consider anyone. They aren’t doing their jobs.

Every Senate race this year just became a referendum on this unprecedented level of obstruction, with Democratic candidates asking voters — over and over again — whether they think it’s responsible to block this nominee so they can save Scalia’s seat for Donald Trump to fill it.

If this is the hill that swing-state Republicans want to die on, then so be it:


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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