By Elijah Lutz, Staff Writer
Last week, President Barack Obama announced his nominee to take the place of the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court, despite the requests of many Senate Republicans to let the next president be the one who nominates the next justice. The Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Merrick Garland was selected by President Obama after an exhaustive vetting process that included many federal judges. Garland, who has received praise from both sides of the political spectrum and is known for his centralist ideological stances, has served on the Court of Appeals since 1997, when he was nominated by President Bill Clinton, and has been the Chief Judge since 2013. Prior to his judgeship, Judge Garland was a prosecuting attorney.
President Obama’s nomination has garnered a wide variety of responses from both sides of the aisle. Senate Democrats have actively called for a vote on Judge Garland, imploring their Republican counterparts to give Garland a hearing before the Judiciary committee. On the floor of the Senate, Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “For 100 years we’ve had these hearings in public… I hope that President Obama’s nomination of an exceptionally qualified and consensus nominee will persuade the Senate Republicans to change course… Give President Obama’s nominee a meeting, a hearing and a vote.”
Many Senate Republicans, however, have opposed the nomination of Judge Garland, saying that President Obama should not nominate anyone during a presidential election, rather let the next president decide who to fill the vacancy, in turn giving the American people part of a say in who to nominate. Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”
Not all Senate Republicans hold as staunch views, however. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said on NPR that the Senate should hold a hearing on Garland, saying, “I believe that we should follow the regular order in considering this nominee. The Constitution’s very clear that the president has every right to make this nomination, and then the Senate can either consent or withhold its consent. The only way that we can do that is by thoroughly vetting the nominee, and that means having personal meetings and to hold a public hearing.”