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The Merrick Garland Disaster

It’s impossible for me to feel more bitchy about this nominee.

I’m not going to take a deep dive into his record because I’m positive that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve already done that. I will say that his record on criminal justice is abysmal, especially if you’re a president who has been talking about criminal justice reform. He’s a former prosecutor so he’s prone to seeing every defendant as a criminal that needs punishing. And he has, in virtually every criminal justice case he’s ruled on. He’s the guy that always dissents from more liberal judges on these issues.

Here’s what ScotusBlog said about him (in 2010) in regard to his rulings on constitutional issues;

“In various other contexts, Judge Garland has in a few cases rejected assertions of constitutional rights, disagreeing with his more-liberal colleagues.  I am not aware of counterexamples in which he has staked out a more liberal position.”

He seems okay on civil rights issues, but we really don’t have very many civil rights rulings from him to look at.

Like Roberts, Garland has never met a corporation he hasn’t agreed with. YAY!

We don’t have really anything from him on the issues of campaign finance (my biggest issue) or women’s reproductive rights.

Here’s the bottom line: there isn’t much evidence to demonstrate that he’s liberal so at best, he’s a complete centrist.

We know that republicans love him. Right wing whackadoodle senator Orrin Hatch said this about Garland;

“Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned… His legal experience is equally impressive… Accordingly, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally, I know of his integrity, I know of his legal ability, I know of his honesty, I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court. I believe he is not only a fine nominee, but is as good as Republicans can expect from this administration. In fact, I would place him at the top of the list.

Mega whackadoodle senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions said;

“He has a high position with the Department of Justice and, by all accounts, does a good job there. There will be a number of judgeship vacancies in the D.C. trial judges. He has been a trial lawyer. He would be a good person to fill one of those. I would feel comfortable supporting him for another judgeship.”

Former republican senator from Arizona, Jon Kyle said;

“I believe Mr. Garland is well qualified for the court of appeals. He earned degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court and, since 1993, he has worked for the Department of Justice. So there is no question, he is qualified to serve on the court.”

Remember, Jon Kyle is the lunatic who proclaimed (on the senate floor) that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. When he was called on it, his office released a statement saying, “that was not intended to be a factual statement”. Wow, you must be awesome to get that guy’s praise.

It gets better. Here are Strom Thurmond’s thoughts on Garland;

“I have no reservations about Mr. Garland’s qualifications or character to serve in this capacity. He had an excellent academic record at both Harvard College and Harvard Law School before serving as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, he has served in distinguished positions in private law practice and with the Department of Justice. Moreover, I have no doubt that Mr. Garland is a man of character and integrity.”

This is not a person that a “liberal” president should be nominating to the Supreme Court. Wanna know how I can tell? Because when republicans get their turn, they nominate and fight for people like Clarence fucking Thomas, Sam Alito, and Antonin Scalia.

I love it when republicans talk about preserving the balance of the court. You mean like when you guys replaced Thurgood Marshall with pervy, right wing mute, Clarence Thomas? Preserve the balance like that?

“Preserving the balance” of the court is only an issue when a democrat occupies the white house. When a republican occupies the white house, they get to go for the fringiest of the right wing fringe nominee they can find. But democrats don’t ever get their turn at nominating anyone who is anything resembling left of center. Or left of center right. And democratic voters are happy with this. It’s like they suffer from some kind of fucked up Stockholm Syndrome, where they can’t even conceive of going for a nominee in the model of Earl Warren.

So to recap; republicans get to assemble their right wing dream team when given the opportunity, but democrats are perfectly content with someone who “isn’t as bad as Scalia”. I have some news for you; comparing a nominee to the worst of the worst isn’t a good calibration of your good nominee barometer. That’s like comparing a president to George W Bush. Why not aim a little higher with your comparisons?

Now let me get to the heart of the Stockholm sufferers’ argument. Obama is actually playing three dimensional chess by nominating someone republicans like, and forcing their hand on a nomination. And by refusing to hold hearings on a “friendly” nominee, he’s exposing republican obstructionism.

Let me pick this argument apart. First off, republicans have already done that when they proclaimed that they wouldn’t consider anyone Obama nominates. That already happened. Republicans have already exposed their own obstructionism. Check. Polls taken days after that announcement show that republican senators prospects for reelection had been damaged by that stance. Three republican senators are in big trouble in terms of their prospects of being reelected if the republicans refuse to confirm anyone. That’s without knowing who the nominee even is. Americans are fundamentally fair. Yes, there are partisan hacks on both sides but that’s not the majority of Americans who approved of Bill Clinton to the tune of 68% after republicans tried to impeach him over a private affair. You don’t get to 68% without the support of a significant number of people who call themselves republicans.

The idea that Obama is forcing their hand by nominating someone they like, and thereby furthering that perception of their obstructionism is predicated on the idea that the American people pay attention to the background of a Supreme Court nominee. That’s nonsense, and there isn’t a shred of evidence that’s true. In fact, the evidence points the other way. Two thirds of Americans can’t name a single sitting Supreme Court justice. That’s right, two thirds of Americans can’t come up with a single name. A whopping 20% can manage to come up with the Chief Justice’s name. Wow, that’s impressive. The percentages go down after naming Roberts:

  • John Roberts — 20%
  • Antonin Scalia — 16%
  • Clarence Thomas — 16%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg — 13%
  • Sonia Sotomayor — 13%
  • Anthony Kennedy — 10%
  • Samuel Alito — 5%
  • Elena Kagan — 4%
  • Stephen Breyer — 3%

Trust me when I tell you that Americans give almost no shits about the background of a Supreme Court nominee. Not only is there no upside in nominating a centrist, but the huge downside is that it perpetuates the current reality that democrats can’t ever nominate a liberal. This is a terrible long term strategy. Obama should have nominated Thom Hartmann or the ghost of George Carlin. The further left, the better. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders would also be excellent choices.

There’s another factor that hasn’t been considered by democrats who think that Obama is being “brilliant” with this move: Trump. Democrats are convincing themselves that this is a brilliant move because republicans are never going to confirm this guy. I believe they’re wrong. Right now, republican operatives are trying to figure out what to do about the Trump problem. They really only have two choices:

  • Let him be the nominee, which jeopardize all of the down ticket candidates. They’re justifiably afraid that an anti-establishment nominee hurts down ticket establishment senators and congress candidates. In order to save the senate, they’re effectively going to have to run against their own presidential nominee. They’re already talking about sacrificing the presidency to save the senate.
  • Pull a fast one at the convention and pick another nominee. This poses a risk of revolution within the republican party and also hurts down ticket candidates, since it makes the establishment look even slimier than they look now.

That’s it. There are no other options for the GOP. Trust me when I tell you that, given these two options republicans are going to try and save the senate seats. Saving the senate means not doing anything to jeopardize a single senator who’s up for reelection.

The three dimensional chess theory is dependent on republicans refusing to confirm this guy. I think that the odds are that they will because they have to. Certainly given the Trump factor, the odds are better than they will confirm, than they won’t.

As I said, I don’t see anything good about this nomination. For a democrat to think this is a good thing, you would have to employ some magical thinking that combines the acceptance that we’re in a perpetual hostage situation, blind ignorance to the position that republicans are in with their inevitable nominee, and assumptions that are completely supported by a shred of evidence.

I don’t suffer from Stockholm Syndrome so I’m experiencing some acute bitchiness this morning.

 

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