With the sudden death of Antonin Scalia a few weeks ago, there’s been a battle raging between Democrats and Republicans over whether or not President Obama should be the one who appoints his successor. Being that Obama has a little less than a year left in his presidency, Republicans are trying to play the absurd “a president shouldn’t be allowed to replace a justice in their final year” nonsense. Even though in 1988, Ronald Reagan’s final year in office, Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate – which was controlled by Democrats at the time.
Anyone who’s even remotely rational knows that this is nothing but pure, partisan politics.
Well, despite Republicans almost instantly saying that under no circumstances would they hold hearings on anyone President Obama nominated to replace Scalia, the president vowed to nominate someone anyway. After all, that’s what the Constitution says he has the power to do.
While I’m sure many on the far-left won’t be thrilled with his choice, President Obama nominating Merrick Garland is a stroke of genius. Not only has Garland been praised by several current Senate Republicans, but he’s considered by many to be fairly “centrist” and “moderate.” This puts Republicans, like current presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, in a bit of a bind because one of their biggest talking points they’ve been using is how the president would nominate some “radical leftist.” Hell, Cruz has even gone as far as to literally tell voters that if Obama was allowed to replace Scalia, Americans would likely lose their Second Amendment rights.
The rhetoric from Republicans concerning this whole situation has been laughably ridiculous.
Now, by nominating a centrist to replace Scalia, President Obama has forced Republicans into what’s almost a no-win situation. They can’t continue to claim he’s going to nominate a “radical leftist,” because he didn’t. Republicans must now defend why they’re going to blatantly obstruct someone who, by all accounts, is a moderate. And if they continue to do that, in the long run, they’re risking many voters seeing them as blatant obstructionists (which they are), which could then backfire on them in November, possibly handing Democrats majority control in the Senate.
Not only that, but if they continue to block this moderate nominee, they’re also risking losing any leverage they might have. Because if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders wins this November, and Democrats reclaim the majority in the Senate, then either Clinton or Sanders will be able to choose a far more liberal replacement for Scalia. Something that the president couldn’t have done due to the circumstances.
If Republicans stick to their word that they’re not going to let President Obama replace Scalia, they’re betting everything on winning this November. Considering the current state of their party with Donald Trump as the overwhelming frontrunner for their presidential nomination, that’s a huge risk to take.
Either way, by picking a fairly non-controversial but highly qualified moderate to replace Scalia, President Obama has made the genius move of backing Republicans into a corner from which they can’t escape.