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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  • Nicholas A Kocal

    Recess appointment.

  • DoverBill

    Can ya imagine the history begging to be written verfiying that this was the worse party decision/disaster in the 21st century?

    Go Hillary!

  • Ninja0980

    If Democrats hadn’t used the nuclear option, Obama’s impact on the courts would have been even less.

  • Butch1

    His eight-year obstruction game has been successful in stopping what could have been a successful Democratic run had we the right people running the House and Senate at the time. It also would have helped having a real moderate President in the White House as well, but unfortunately, that isn’t what we got for our votes. Both Pelosi and Reid have been found to be more in the DINO camp than what I had expected. It surprised me to see them not fight for our Social Security like they said they would or Medicare etc. They promised they would, but when the going got tough on them they rolled over. Huge disappointments, both of them.

    I won’t go into my litany of the things Obama pulled, it would take too much time, but McConnell has been a real pain in his arse the whole time. I doubt Obama is going to get a nomination and McConnell will run out the Clock on him. Ultimately, this may do them more damage as a result of this last game and people may vote some of the others who are up for re-election out of office. It may be just enough to turn the Senate back over to the Democrats once again, but will it do any good with Chuck Schummer, another DINO as the Majority Senate leader in charge? I wonder. It probably won’t make much difference if Trump or Clinton is President, but it would be interesting if Sanders becomes the President. ;-)

  • Jimmy R

    Alas, the turtle…or no-lips, as I prefer to call him…isn’t up for re-election until 2020, so he’s banking on the rubes he’s ripping off, aka his constituency, to have forgotten all this by then. Sadly, he’s probably right. He’s a nobody from my home town who is now magically a millionaire. A thoroughly detestable creature and embarrassment to all. I suspect that this stunt will backfire as The Prez appears to have successfully outmaneuvered him…i sure as hell hope so!

  • Baal


  • Baal

    Maybe if they just skipped the reanimation part.

  • Baal

    He may not be as bad as I first feared.

  • Zorba

    Obama could have nominated Ronald Reagan’s reanimated corpse, and McConnell, et al, would still be acting the same way.

  • Butch1

    One can hope for this to happen; I would like to see the “turtle” step down.
    He’s been in the limelight for far too long.

  • trinu

    He should nominate a special prosecutor to press charges in the Flint water case. If they confirm, they lose points with their base for not blocking Obama. If they don’t confirm, they lose points with everyone else.

  • Understood.

  • I get that. Just don’t expect me to be happy about it.

  • There would have been no point whatsoever in Obama nominating a left or center-left justice, who would have instead been used by the Republicans in their position of “See? We are the only ones standing between the Democrats and their liberal-majority Supreme Court.”

    There will be no moderate or center-right judge from Obama, not for the Supreme Court and not for any of the federal courts either. The Republicans have already made it clear Obama will get no more judges or other appointments for the rest his term.

  • Democrats actually have to get out and vote for the senate to get a majority. We’ll see. That makes sense but I can’t say I’m happy about a moderate or center-right judge.

  • It’s about both the Democratic presidential nomination, whether it’s Clinton or Sanders, AND the Senate majority. By painting the Senate GOPers (accurately, mind you) as nothing but partisan obstructionists who will eagerly put party ahead of country, Obama just improved the chances of the Democrats retaking a Senate majority.

    This here was Obama’s only winning move, and he played it well. A progressive-left nominee for the Supreme Court would have gained nothing, and actually by most objective measures, Garland really is a moderate, not center-right. (Not every measure, but mostly.)

  • Yep. And in my opinion, Obama just improved the chances for the Democrats to retake the Senate in the fall.

  • Phil in FLL

    LOL. “Please proceed governor [Romney]”… to put your foot in your mouth.

  • Phil in FLL

    This was a very stupid move on the Republican’s part that will certainly backfire. Why? Below is the current situation.

    Obama approval rating: 50%
    Republican-controlled congress approval rating: 12%

    Now watch the congressional approval rating go even lower and Obama’s go even higher. When an incumbent president’s approval rating goes higher than 48%, it bodes well for his party’s chances in a presidential election.

  • And this is why the Garland nomination was a smart move. The Republicans are like Pavlov’s dog when it comes to anything Obama does. It is a “Please proceed” moment.

  • trinu

    If the GOP nominates Cruz, Hillary’s chances are … not good (no I don’t understand why people find him less repugnant than Trump). Her only hope is that Trump’s nomination will depress voter turnout among Republicans even more than hers will among the Democrats.

  • That is if Hillary gets elected – which me and a lot of others are very dubious about. Still dems can’t complain too much since they don’t vote in mid-term elections and now we’re stuck with a “moderate” conservative.

  • basenjilover

    Democrats ought to seek advice/help from Governor Edwards of Louisiana when he beat Vitter in deeply red state.

  • emjayay

    No more than an actual photo.

  • Make SCOTUS an issue in Senate campaigns, win the Senate, use majority to let Hillary make an appointment — probably someone else, to Garland’s left.

  • What’s the long game here? To make them look bad by not accepting a right/center judge? Ok so they said no. Now what?

  • That picture of McConnell is horrifying.

  • Baal

    It’s a good thing they’re fucking idiots, because I did not like this nomination. But then again, when I play chess it is on only two dimensions and I am not good at it.

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