Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told CNN’s Dana Bash today that the Senate would not confirm Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Obama earlier this week, in the lame duck session. Senate Republicans have been adamant that the next president, whoever that may be, should decide this nomination. This has drawn the ire of Democrats who feel that Republicans are skirting their constitutional obligation to advise and consent on judicial nominations, despite the fact that the Constitution doesn’t say the Senate must consider a nominee upon recommendation by the president. Yes, Senate Republicans can sit on their hands during this process–and that appears to be what they’re planning on doing for the time being:
"I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame duck session after the American people have spoken would want to confirm a nominee opposed by the NRA, the NFIB, and the New York Times says would move the court dramatically to the left," McConnell said. "This nomination ought to be made by the next president."
He also criticized Garland, arguing that opposition to his nomination from the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses shows he's too liberal.
Asked if he's ruling out the possibility of a lame duck confirmation entirely, McConnell said: "Yes."
Democrats are prodding the GOP to give Garland a confirmation vote.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada called on Republicans to "man up and do it now" in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." He also predicted that McConnell will back off his pledge not to give Garland a vote.
"Mitch McConnell has said a lot of things. But his Republican senators are not going to go over that cliff with him. They're not going to do it. As I told Merrick Garland, 'This is going to break. You're going to become a Supreme Court justice.' "
There is a bit of debate though regarding a secondary protocol for Republicans if it looks like Hillary is going to be the next president of the United States. Garland is very sketchy on gun rights, but he’s also upset liberals too in some of his decisions. He certainly would be more of a centrist than any of the nominees a Clinton White House would send to the Senate, so maybe there is a scintilla of truth in what Reid says if things start to look dire towards the end of this election year. Conservative commentator George Will noted that the GOP’s opposition to Obama’s nominee pretty much isn’t defensible, and that we shouldn’t trust a hypothetical Trump White House with their judicial nominations either:
There is every reason to think that Trump understands none of the issues pertinent to the Supreme Court’s role in the American regime, and there is no reason to doubt that he would bring to the selection of justices what he brings to all matters — arrogance leavened by frivolousness.
Trump’s multiplying Republican apologists do not deny the self-evident — that he is as clueless regarding everything as he is about the nuclear triad. These invertebrate Republicans assume that as president he would surround himself with people unlike himself — wise and temperate advisers. So, we should wager everything on the hope that the man who says his “number one” foreign-policy adviser is “myself” (because “I have a very good brain”) will succumb to humility and rely on people who actually know things. If Republicans really think that either their front-runner or the Democrats’ would nominate someone superior to Garland, it would be amusing to hear them try to explain why they do.
At the same time, I bet there are a few Republicans who are willing to roll the dice on centrist nominees, yet when it comes to the Second Amendment; Garland teeters on either end of the fence. This is about civil rights, and Garland surely has what appears to be a decidedly anti-gun record. Do we settle with him, or someone much, much worse from Clinton land? Either decision looks bad, but the GOP may have to grapple with choosing the lesser to two evils.