Merrick Garland

Democrats Focus on Garland at Gorsuch Hearing

“The Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch is underway, but based on the statements of Democrats, one might think it was about the man who might have been: Judge Merrick Garland,” the New York Times reports.

“Democrats were always expected to highlight Republicans’ refusal to even meet with President Barack Obama’s nominee last year. But the frequency and ferocity of their attacks were notable out of the gate.”

Udall Floats Plan to Confirm Gorsuch and Garland

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) has an idea that could place both Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court at the same time, CNN reports.

“His proposal is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama’s unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously.”

Obama Really Blew It with the Garland Nomination

James Hohmann: “Engaging with the hypotheticals of counterfactual history is always fraught, but based on hundreds of conversations with voters across the country before and since the election, I believe it is possible that Trump would have lost had McConnell not kept Scalia’s seat open. The election was very narrowly decided, and many conservatives who live in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Detroit found Trump odious but rationalized voting for him because of the court.”

“With the benefit of hindsight, we can now say more firmly that Barack Obama blew it by picking Merrick Garland last year. The former president naively tried to make Republicans an offer they couldn’t refuse by picking a milquetoast, pro-business, moderate, middle-aged white guy who he thought they’d accept, rather than risk Hillary Clinton choosing someone far more progressive. Clinton, to her detriment, was always cagey and evasive about whether or not she’d re-nominate Garland. That helped Republicans defang the issue.”

“While Obama was playing checkers, McConnell was playing chess. Liberal groups couldn’t get their followers ginned up for someone as bland as Garland. Conservative groups – which tend to be more strategic and better financed than their counterparts – mobilized more effectively. In stark contrast to the Republican convention, where SCOTUS was a buzzword, no Democrat mentioned Garland during the Democratic National Convention.”

Clinton Might Not Choose Garland for Supreme Court

Hillary Clinton said she wouldn’t be bound by President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, hinting that she would consider a bolder choice if she takes office in January with the seat still unfilled, Bloomberg reports.

However, she also said she wouldn’t ask Obama to withdraw Garland’s nomination after Election Day, leaving open the possibility he could be confirmed with her implicit blessing in a congressional lame-duck session.

Did Obama Blow It with the Merrick Garland Nomination?

James Hohmann: “No Democratic Senate candidates are talking about Garland in paid television ads. No one mentioned Garland during the Democratic National Convention in July, including Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton has not committed to re-nominate Garland if she’s elected. While she talks about the Supreme Court, she almost never talks about him.”

“Some Democrats privately fear that Obama blew an opportunity to help re-activate the coalition that elected him twice by not picking a more progressive nominee – especially a minority candidate – to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Had Obama nominated someone who really ginned up the Democratic base, perhaps Clinton and the party would have more whole-heartedly embraced him or her.”

Also: “Many of the same progressives who are not enthusiastic about Clinton are also not enthusiastic about Garland.”

Politico: “The air wars over Garland have largely gone silent, with no Senate Democratic candidates having run television ads invoking the unprecedented Republican blockade of Garland. And some Senate Republicans have actually turned the tables, using the court to motivate their own base.”

Garland Heads Back to Capitol Hill

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is making his way back up to Capitol Hill, Politico reports.

“Months after his one-on-one charm offensive with senators largely ended, Garland is returning to the Senate on Thursday to meet privately with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as Senate Democrats continue a broader public relations push to pressure Republicans on confirming the veteran jurist this year.”

McConnell’s Supreme Court Dilemma

First Read: “With yet another poll showing Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump by double digits — this time from NBC|SurveyMonkey — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an important choice to make. Does he continue to block President Obama’s pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Merrick Garland, and risk the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton could nominate someone much more liberal (and younger) instead? Or does he relent on the Garland blockade, realizing that it might be the best outcome for Senate Republicans — simply to turn the conversation away from Trump?”

“And it’s worth pointing out that Clinton running mate Tim Kaine didn’t 100% close the door on the possibility that Clinton might make her own Supreme Court pick if Republicans continue to block Garland.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“If anybody can get his senators to all agree to go over a cliff and kill themselves, that’s pretty good. Boy, I will tell you that guy has a lot more sway with his caucus than I ever had. If I ever suggested something as absurd and bizarre as that to my caucus, they would revote and kick the hell out of me out of the caucus. I mean, really.”

— Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), quoted by the New York Times, on Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) effort to prevent even a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Hatch Reacts to Meeting Before It Occurs

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) accidentally published an op-ed in the Deseret News claiming that his meeting with Judge Merrick Garland didn’t change his mind about delaying action on the nomination until after the presidential election, the Washington Post reports.

The problem: Hatch hasn’t even met with Garland yet.

The article was removed from the Deseret News website but remains available in a Google database.

Flake Says Garland Should Be Confirmed If GOP Loses

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told NBC News that the GOP should continue to wait on Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination but if Republicans lose the presidential election, they should confirm his quickly.

Said Flake: “I think Republicans are more than justified in waiting. That is following both principle and precedent. But the principle is to have the most conservative, qualified jurists that we can have on the Supreme Court, not that the people ought to decide before the next election. I’ve never held that position. If we come to a point, I’ve said all along, where we’re going to lose the election, or we lose the election in November, then we ought to approve him quickly. Because I’m certain that he’ll be more conservative than a Hillary Clinton nomination comes January.”

Moran Reverses Himself on Supreme Court Hearings

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) “has reversed his position on a hearing and vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, just a week after straying from the position of GOP leadership,” Politico reports.

“The senator’s office released a statement Friday clarifying Moran’s position, saying the senator no longer believes hearings are a necessity.”

White House Maps Strategy for Garland Nomination

“With small cracks emerging in the Republican Supreme Court blockade — and private indications from some GOP senators that they’d likely back Merrick Garland if he ever did come up for a vote — the White House is preparing to press its perceived political advantage when senators return from their recess next week,” Politico reports.

“The next month will be all about meetings: The Supreme Court nominee will have met with 10 senators as of Wednesday, and the White House is looking to load his schedule full with the 52 additional senators (including 16 Republicans) who’ve said publicly they’ll see the judge once they’re back from the two-week break.”

“That will bring them to the next, one-week recess in May. Once senators get back from that time in their home states, the White House will shift its focus to calling for hearings: Garland has met with everybody who’s been willing to see him, they’ll argue, including a majority of the Senate.”