Our Opinion: Obama Supreme Court nominee puts heat on Republicans


Editor's note: This editorial was updated on March 21, 2016. A previous version of this editorial incorrectly referred to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, as a "Trump supporter." Although the senator has stated to the press on several occasions that he will support Mr. Trump if he is the Republican party's chosen candidate, Johnson has not endorsed him or publicly supported him.

President Obama has done his job in nominating a respected, experienced centrist judge as the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice. Now it is up to Senate Republicans to do their job and give him a hearing.

In nominating Merrick B. Garland, a well-known appeals court judge who is highly respected in Washington, the president has put the pressure squarely on the Republicans, who immediately politicized the death of Justice Antonin Scalia by declaring that they would not conduct hearings on the president's nominee, let alone take a vote. This would put them in clear violation of their responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution, a document Republicans claim to cherish except for when they find it inconvenient.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got it right Wednesday when he said "Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy." The people used their voices when they twice elected Barack Obama as president, giving him the constitutional power to nominate a Supreme Court justice when a vacancy emerged. What he meant, of course, is that Republicans should stall in the hope that Donald Trump will get to choose the next Supreme Court nominee.

Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, surprised only with his honesty last week when he acknowledged that "If a conservative president replaces a conservative justice, there's a little more accommodation to it." The GOP's goal of spiting President Obama is obvious, and the endless well of partisanship and hypocrisy Washington Republicans can draw upon has long been obvious to all. If Republicans refuse to do their constitutional duty regarding Judge Garland, Democrats should not be reluctant to use their refusal as a cudgel this election season.


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