By Sal Bommarito
The impending Supreme Court battle between Senate Republicans and President Obama is too juicy of an issue to ignore. It could have a huge impact on the 2016 elections and the direction of the Supreme Court for many years.
The controversy is based upon Obama’s latest attempt to stick it to his opponents and use all measures, regardless of the damage it may cause to our country and our political system, to cement his reputation as the smartest person on Earth.
Frankly, there’s ample risk for both sides to move forward or wait and allow the new president to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia.
For Republicans, if they move ahead and approve the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland, the court will surely be more liberal as he would replace a staunch conservative. If they refuse to consider the nomination until after the new president takes office, the risk is that a Clinton victory could result in a much more liberal nomination.
For Democrats, pushing forward now even after Republican leaders have said they would not consider the nomination, would deny them the opportunity to add a more liberal judge in a Clinton presidency. But, Obama and senators like Chuck Schumer believe there are great political gains that could be accrued from this ploy. They think that by continually saying Senate Republicans are not meeting their constitutional responsibilities (considering Garland’s nomination), it could result in an election windfall. Democrats aim to regain control of the Senate along with winning the presidency. As an aside, the Constitution doesn’t impose any time constraints on a Supreme Court appointment for the president or the Senate.
Unfortunately, all this additional craziness is going to divert voters from the most important issue at hand, selecting a new president. The discourse between the candidates has been unnerving to this point to say the least, so another thing for voters to consider will only make their decisions more complicated.
There is one other important sideshow relating to Garland’s nomination. Obama is clearly using him as a political football, especially if the president believes that the current Senate will not approve him. What happens to this judge’s reputation if Republican senators never interview him? And, if his nomination is tabled until after a Clinton victory, the new president will surely want to make her own more liberal choice. Garland will be cast aside, further damaging his career. Either Obama is setting up Garland up, or Garland has not thought this through. Both of these contingencies are pathetic.
So, what’s going to happen? Obama has already been successful diverting attention from the election to himself. Yet, it’s not clear how this helps Hillary Clinton. Therefore, I can only conclude that Obama is most concerned about his damned legacy, again. He obviously wanted to get back into the news, and he was successful. Moving forward, it’s a game of chicken. Who’s going to relent first? Already some Senate Republicans are saying that perhaps Garland should be kept on ice until the presidential election results are in. If a Republican wins, Garland would be discarded. If Clinton wins, Garland could be approved to avoid and even more liberal nomination by the new president.
The plot thickens.