Sunday, April 17, 2016

Somewhere Over the (Partisan) Rainbow

I don't believe I've ever intentionally spoken ill will of the dead. When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away a few weeks ago, rather than just say "RIP" on social media, I admittedly deferred the idea of criticizing a polarizing figure in American politics. I still received some flack from my Facebook friends, even though I didn't say anything specific about Justice Scalia. (I had my qualms, but so did a lot of other people.) One could argue, however that the Republicans that control both houses of Congress may have overreacted the most.

Judge Merrick Garland, a fellow Chicago native, is the third and likely last person that President Obama has nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. His first two appointees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, were left-leaning justices replacing fellow liberals on a court that tilted right. Garland's potential appointment will allegedly tip the scale to the left, or at least that's what the GOP fears; Garland has a history of being a moderate/centrist, a swing vote on a court that is now deadlocked at four and four.  In any other era of American politics, Garland would be a model nominee and have a swift confirmation. In a polarized Washington during an election year, he might not even get a hearing.

As of this writing, the only elected Republican to meet with Judge Garland is Sen. Mark Kirk, a fellow Illinoisan. It's an election year, and I can see why the GOP is trying to save face; they want to wait until Obama is out of office in nine months, apparently in total disregard of who might succeed him. At the same time, this group of senators was elected by their constituents to serve their country, and by refusing to give Judge Garland a hearing indicates a refusal to do their jobs. There is nothing to indicate that Garland is a liberal firebrand or would have any detrimental value to the nation's highest court, the GOP is simply being obstructive. A political party that is trying to vain to prove that they have ideas is doing everything but that. Whether they confirm or reject Garland, I'm not spending my tax money on a group of old men sitting on their hands because it allegedly compromises their principles.


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