By now I think everyone has at least heard of the uproar, fighting or goings-on surrounding the unexpected vacancy in the highest court of the land, The Supreme Court. Basically, no one on either side of the fence expected Justice Scalia to die, leaving such a vacancy. Everyone was sure it would happen in the next president’s first term. But right now, Obama is still President. The idea that Obama could finally tilt the court’s balance in favor of liberalism is, apparently, terrifying to the Republican Party. So, what can they do? Well apparently they can do what they have been good at over the past few years – throwing a tantrum until they get their way.
Now I don’t agree with their “last year” logic, but even more I am wondering, “Do they even know what they’re doing?” I mean I could understand (not agree with, I still think their argument is baseless) why those in control of the GOP reacted this way before Obama announced his nominee. They probably thought he would go crazy liberal on their asses. He might nominate a woman. Or a Muslim. Or someone who isn’t white. Or a gay. (Eeek, gasp!) But the thing is, he didn’t. Obama in this last year of his second term actually nominated a person who seems like the very definition of a centrist, or as many people see on both sides of the fence (other than GOP legislators apparently) – a compromise, an olive branch, a way for both sides to stop fighting for fighting’s sake and begin to meet in the middle. Frankly, the GOP could do much worse.
So, who is this Supreme Court Justice nominee, Merrick Garland, anyway? Merrick Garland is one cool, qualified dude. And before you think, “Well, of course you think that, you’re liberal,” stop for a moment. If you think Garland was who I thought Obama was going to nominate, or who I wanted to see be nominated, get real! I would have loved another woman on the bench. Or a person of color. Or a member of the LGBT community (that would be a first!) or best yet – someone who was all three of these things combined. I would have wanted another Rah-Rah Liberal to be sitting on that bench. And to be clear, I am not alone in this. A lot of liberals, a lot of democrats had very different ideas on who the nomination would, and should, go to. Just saying.
But I have to say, Garland is beyond qualified and incredibly experienced. Actually, on that note, he has the most federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. Like the history of Supreme Court nominees. Seriously, whether you want him to be considered or not, you have to admit that that is impressive. On that note, Garland’s specific case experience is impressive, including criminal defendant rights (for the left) and the prosecution of some compelling and relevant cases for the right, including Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols for the Oklahoma City bombing.
What other reasons would he make a good candidate? Well, he has a strong history of helping people with different political ideologies reach a consensus. He has had the support of both sides and is well-respected by both political parties. And his reputation, which is well-deserved, paints him as a jurist – someone who decides every case based on what the law requires, rather than how the law can be interpreted using his own political ideology. And isn’t that the most important thing? I mean liberals are afraid a conservative judge will ignore a law and if necessary twist it to match their religious and traditional mindset (which is ironic when this country was founded on religious freedom and the separation of church and state) while conservatives are worried a liberal nominee will twist the law to match their agendas. So having someone that leaves all of that behind and focuses on the law itself, nothing else… That takes care to alleviate the fears in both camps. Sure all judges are supposed to do this and act in this way, but far too many do not. Garland doesn’t just make the claim or play the part – he is the real deal and has a solid record to back this up.
I mean let’s be real, the GOP could do a lot worse. And I don’t mean they would pick worse (oh, but they would) but that any of the current presidential hopefuls would nominate such a bipartisan official with a track record of bridging the gap between both parties, is a joke. Hillary is going to go way more liberal with it. So will Bernie. Cruz would end up nominating a version of himself (which is scary as one is more than enough) while Trump will nominate an inexperienced idiot because people like him nominate people like themselves, and he is an inexperienced (and hateful) idiot. Garland is simply the best of both worlds. He belongs to both parties and he belongs to neither. He cannot be used as a tool for anyone’s political agenda. Perhaps, that’s why he is such a scary prospect?
And now moving on to this whole “last year” thing. What a ridiculous argument. So does that mean anything Obama says or does for the next year is meaningless, devoid of influence, power or duty? I guess that means that the 22 Republican Senators that are up for reelection cannot vote on any laws. I mean if the whole argument is that it is not right for Obama, in his last year in office to fulfill the responsibilities of President, then why should representatives in their last year in office, write or vote on any legislation. I mean if we need to let the American people decide by electing the next president, I think it is also true that we need to let the American people decide between electing new senators or reelect the old ones. Because it’s the same thing. (No, it actually, really is.)
But wait – how can a country function with an impotent president and so many members of Congress (hey I’m fair, so I mean any members of Congress up for reelection regardless of political party) who are nothing more than decorations – complete wastes of space? Well nothing would get done for starters. The country would be vulnerable, fall behind, and it would lead to a domino situation essentially spelling out D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R! So, why are we even talking about this? I mean do I get to stop making car payments in the final year of my loan? I mean sure I have this obligation, but it’s in the last year – what if I want to trade it in and just have whatever I owe on it be counted against whatever credit I would be offered? If I was a doctor and it was my final year of residency at a specific hospital, would I lose surgical privileges there? I mean what if, in a year, they decide not to renew my contract with them?
A few friends who are Republicans, even though they don’t agree with the Senate’s refusal to consider any nominee, don’t believe this is the same thing. But it actually is. Because Obama is still our president. Whether he has ten days left, ten months left or ten years left is irrelevant. The Constitution does not outline the President’s duties and then say, “Except in the instance that the president has less than thirteen months left in his presidential term.” I mean, why is this so complicated? How? It isn’t. It’s a baseless argument that is nothing more than another political stunt/tantrum. And I am tired of tantrums. And so are a lot of other “American people” who make up BOTH political parties.
Politicians need to stop focusing on their allegiances and power plays and which side is winning. Because when the GOP wins everyone loses. Win the Dems win everyone loses. Because it was never supposed to be about them versus us. We’re all Americans and both parties, while different in priorities and particular agendas, are supposed to be in this to run the government – to move this country forward and continue to make it great while working to make it greater still. And this constant bickering and pissing contests between opposing parties and their members only make this country everything it isn’t supposed to be. Not great or progressive or a leader or a place of opportunity and promise. It makes us a laughing stock, a cautionary tale, a piece of international theatre.
I’m not saying Garland needs to be appointed. I am saying he needs to be considered and not simply denied because he was Obama’s pick, but actually considered. Note that if the longest vetting process in history started this month it would still be over months before elections. Before the actual elections. We need all of our branches of government to function and right now none of them are. The President is blocked by an angry GOP-run Congress; Congress is refusing to do what its officials were actually elected to do, what their job actually entails, and still make six figures not doing their jobs; the highest court in the land is stunted and unable to perform in instances of judicial gridlock – the next nominee would be the ninth judge. Meaning in the case of a four-to-four tie, the Supreme Court would be unable to make any ruling and would be forced to defer to a LOWER court. And while you might think this is liberal propaganda to pressure people into saying, “Pick someone now!” it’s already happened.
So yeah. One year left does not mean the president is suddenly stripped of his powers or duties. One year left doesn’t mean members of Congress can refuse to do the jobs they were elected to do. (Seriously, if they are going to do this, stop paying them!) The Supreme Court cannot afford to be hindered for more than a year by continually canceling its members out.
And as I’ve said before, everyone on both sides could do a lot worse than a law-abiding judge that does not see through a blue or red lens, but what the actual law calls for. I mean, do Republicans want Hillary appointing the next judge? Bernie? I know that no Democrat wants Cruz to make such a decision. And no one on either side wants such a power to go to Trump.
Garland is a reminder that if you forget about power plays and winning and opposing sides and focus on this country and its government – its laws, America could be great again. Now what good, upstanding American doesn’t want that?