Another Anthony Kennedy

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Obama Administration, Supreme Court

First-term President Obama made a surprise reappearance today and announced the nomination of a “centrist” SCOTUS pick, Merrick Garland. Some guy at Salon wrote,

It’s easy to understand why. Garland is the epitome of a bland choice: a centrist, impeccably credentialed white man. In choosing him, Obama passed over several more interesting and/or liberal picks, and nominated someone whose judicial history suggests he might actually move the court to the right on criminal justice issues. In an election year, at a time when Democrats are fervently pitching themselves as the party of a changing, increasingly diverse nation, when the nominee could have been the potential embodiment of a leftward transformation on the court, Garland is a deflating sort of pick.

In other words, he sounds like another Anthony Kennedy to me. We’re squandering a court pick for this?

This is from ThinkProgress:

The former prosecutor also has a relatively conservative record on criminal justice. A 2010 examination of his decisions by SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein determined that “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.” Goldstein “identified only eight such published rulings,” in addition to seven where “he voted to reverse the defendant’s sentence in whole or in part, or to permit the defendant to raise a argument relating to sentencing on remand,” during the 13 years Garland had then spent on the DC Circuit.

To be clear, Garland’s record does not suggest that he would join the Court’s right flank if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He would likely vote much more often than not with the Supreme Court’s liberals, while occasionally casting a heterodox vote. Nevertheless, as Goldstein wrote in 2010 when Garland was under consideration to replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, “to the extent that the President’s goal is to select a nominee who will articulate a broad progressive vision for the law, Judge Garland would be a very unlikely candidate to take up that role.”

Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly wrote,

There are some on the left who are expressing disappointment that President Obama didn’t chose a nominee with a more progressive legal record. But those folks don’t understand this President’s commitment to pragmatism as a strategy. For those who prefer battle analogies, he prefers to defend the high ground.

Yeah, the high ground and $5 will get you a 20 pierce Chick McNuggets, I understand. I don’t want the high ground; I want another Ruther Bader Ginsburg. Now now now!

If the Republicans ain’t gonna hold hearings anyway, what’s the point of trying to appease them? Paul Waldman and Charles Pierce both think this is a smart political move, and maybe it is, but I don’t like it.

 

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. paradoctor  •  Mar 16, 2016 @6:56 pm

    Don’t sweat it, a centrist is a huge improvement over Scalia. Structurally, we were always going to win this one; the R’s can only negotiate how much they can disgrace themselves along the way.

    Meanwhile, a 4-4 Court cannot be selecting any Presidents. So no replay of 2000, thank goodness.

  2. Iona  •  Mar 16, 2016 @7:01 pm

    I don’t like it either. At best, this is a low aim he should have held out for later after first aiming high. If it comes down to selecting someone else after the Republicans say no to Garland, it will only be someone further to the right. When you haggle with a customer, you start off with the higher price, not the lower.

    I get it that Obama is trying to show out the Republicans for the obstructionist that they are– but we already know that– this isn’t revealing anything new– I don’t see how trolling the Republicans is helping the nation any.

    While I am voting Democratic (Sanders, or worst-case scenario, Clinton), doesn’t this put a chink in the argument that we should vote Democratic because of who will get selected for the Supreme Court? If this is the result of such an argument, then its a pretty flimsy one.

    But then again, to call Obama a liberal is a bit of a joke anyway. I think we’ve long lost our bearing on what constitutes “left” and “right” here. So, once again, color me disappointed….

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 16, 2016 @7:30 pm

    I like it.
    It’s Obama at his political best.
    Sure, I’d love a more liberal pick, but, he’s toying with the idiot’s in the GOP.

    I remember his name being mentioned at or near the top of the list. Everone said he was… is, a model judge.

    That Wascawwy Wabbit, Bugs Obama, has once again managed to out maneuver the party of Elmer Fudd’s.

    Now, the ball’s in the Senate’s GOP led Judiciary Committee.

    And, since if Trump wins, he’s liable to nominate Judge Judy, this is a test of the Republican’s sense of patriotism.

    And if Hillary wins, she’s liable to put Sri on the SC first, followed by some more activist judges if/when the oportunity arises – including minorities, women, and, maybe… Dare we think it?… a gay justice!

    The balls’s in your court on this Supreme Court nomination, GOP!
    ‘What dopes!
    What maroons!!!’

  4. Doug  •  Mar 16, 2016 @9:15 pm

    According to a professor at Washington University, Judge Garland would fit idealogically between Kagan and Ginsburg. If you know anything about history, if you aren’t selecting a radical, you don’t know how a judge will rule once he (or she) is on the High Court.

    Remind me again, which USSC Justice authorized Obamacare? See what I mean? But in terms of politics, Garland doesn’t fit into the categories they can denounce. IMHO, they won’t consider him anyway. The next USSC judge will be nominated by Clinton as a final insult to Obama. (If Clinton is smarter than I think she is, she will nominate Garland.)

    The nomination of Garland isn’t about the Supreme Court, it’s about winning the Senate. This is about making the GOP stick it to themselves without a fig leaf of cover. Yeah, I’d love to see the next nominee be a female African-American Muslim from Chicago since that covers the max number of GOP obsessive biases in one mass of protoplasm. Garland stands no better chance than my fantasy candidate – but Garland leaves the GOP with no excuse.

  5. Swami  •  Mar 16, 2016 @11:09 pm

    Now Donald Trump’s delay, delay, delay is attached to a fixed person. The delay is no longer a political abstraction without real value, an impromptu dodge to placate a rabid base. If Trump stands by his words, a judgment on Garland’s qualifications or a reason not to give him a hearing would be required from Trump.. I know Trump is pretty resourceful in deflecting specifics, but as somebody vying for the Presidency I don’t see how he can avoid the fray without exposing himself as an absolute panderer.
    Not that being a panderer would affect his standing with his current supporters, but there will be some who will question his logic and reasoning when he dodges the question of Garland’s fitness to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

  6. Swami  •  Mar 17, 2016 @12:26 am

    Off topic.. but I just heard that Trump, if elected, is going to appoint Chris Christie to the official White House position of Groom of the Stool.

  7. dkxkee  •  Mar 17, 2016 @10:00 am

    I’m with paradoctor, anything’s an improvement over Scalia. I’ll take “between Kagan and Ginsburg” in a heartbeat. A sensible person, which Garland seems to be, will rule against the wingnuts most of the time anyway. If Dems win in November, he may get approved in lame duck.

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 17, 2016 @11:03 am

    Swami,
    I thought he’d be the piss-boy.

  9. joanr16  •  Mar 17, 2016 @11:21 am

    Krispy’s definitely holding something of the Donald’s in his chubby paw….

    Ick, I just made myself throw up a little.

  10. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Mar 17, 2016 @6:07 pm

    I can see the tactical game. If he nominated another Ginsberg, he’d open the door for Republicans to refuse to hold hearings for the “far left loon he nominated”

    Here, he gets to make them look even more childish than they’re being.

    But I kinda lean toward you. It’s true that they are going to look even more childish, but what price will they pay? With today’s media, “it is true, Biden suggested that one shouldn’t name a nominee while the election is underway, which does kinda look like saying saying that a President shouldn’t name a nominee, so, even if he does, the nominee won’t be considered – at least, if you have bad eyesight and are squinting. So, you know, both sides do it; see how fair and non-partisan I am?”

    If there was a chance they’d pay for being such brats, I’d say this was a *great* pick.

    Since they’ll pay no price, I agree – why *not* nominate a Ginsberg?

  11. Joel Dan Walls  •  Mar 18, 2016 @12:22 am


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