5 Worst GOP Excuses for Ignoring Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination

When President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court last week, he essentially handed the Republican Party a gift. Garland is as moderate as judges come, with a strong résumé and an agenda-free approach to the law.

While there’s really no good reason for Republicans to not nominate Garland to the bench, that’s not stopping Republicans from even refusing to hold hearings on the president’s nominations. The excuses the party is giving for ignoring their Constitutional duties are varied, but none of them are remotely valid:

1. The Democrats Started It!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a pretty childish approach to the nomination process, telling top Democrats to blame themselves for the GOP’s current refusal to cooperate on the Supreme Court. Pointing to a time when Democrats tried to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito, McConnell is quoted as saying, “You reap what you sow.”

Let’s be clear, however – the Democrats were participating in the process according to the rules. PolitiFact notes that Democrats may have objected to a handful of GOP nominees, but they never were completely obstructionist about it. At least they always held hearings about the judges and gave an up-or-down vote on the candidates, two things the Republican Party is outright refusing to do.

2. The People Should Decide the Next Nominee

Multiple Republican Senators like Mike Lee have spoken to the press, insisting that it’s important to give the American people a chance to choose the next Supreme Court justice. For starters, the people don’t ever decide a justice – they choose a president to do that, and they’ve twice elected President Obama to handle that responsibility.

More importantly, though, if he thinks the American people should have a say in this process, he should listen to them. National poll after national poll show unequivocally that the majority of Americans not only want the president to nominate a justice, but for the Senate to hold hearings and a vote on the candidate. Suggesting that stalling this process is an act on behalf on the American citizens is completely disregarding their actual opinions on this matter.

3. The NRA Needs to Approve First

Man, if it weren’t obvious enough that the Republicans cower to the National Rifle Association, McConnell made it abundantly clear when listing another reason why the Republicans can’t approve Garland. “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association,” said the senator.

In other words, Republicans are afraid of pissing off the NRA… even more than the majority of Americans calling on Congress to act. Who exactly do the Republicans think they serve anyway?

In addition to the NRA, McConnell said Supreme Court nominees would also need approval from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an organization that has vehemently opposed the Affordable Care Act and attempts to raise the minimum wage. McConnell is essentially admitting that his party has handed over its Supreme Court vetting process to extremist special interest groups.

4. This Nomination Is Too Divisive

Ohio Governor John Kasich – one of the three Republican presidential candidates left standing, chided the president for nominating a judge, suggesting that the move was irresponsible. “I don’t think the president should have sent anybody up now because it’s not going to happen,” said Kasich. “It’s just more division. Now we have more fighting, more fighting, more fighting.”

Is it really divisive for the president to follow his Constitutional duties and nominate a justice? Is it really divisive for the president to nominate a judge known for his moderate stances, one who has been praised almost universally by Republican senators in the past?

For the record, just days ago, Kasich said he would also consider nominating Garland to the Supreme Court himself, showing that Obama’s choice is a solid one. There’s no way this nomination could be considered divisive if Republicans were being even the slightest bit reasonable.

5. This Is Another Example of Judicial Activism!

For years, the Republican Party has rallied behind the idea that Democrats prefer “activist judges” who make decisions based on personal politics rather than interpreting the law. In truth, Republicans are probably even guiltier of nominating activist judges to the bench – just don’t let the facts get in the way of an effective political talking point.

If there’s one thing that Garland isn’t, it’s an activist judge. The man has a lengthy reputation for showing extreme judicial restraint, declining to do little more than interpret existing laws.

As Washington Post writer E.J. Dionne Jr. points out, that’s probably why Republicans are afraid to even openly debate Garland’s nomination in the first place. Having an ideological discussion about the role of Supreme Court justices would expose the Republicans’ hypocrisy when it comes to activist judges, and further show that Garland is the ideal candidate for Republicans – at least according to what they claim.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

March 21, 2016??? Thanks for posting......

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Christine J.
Christine J3 years ago

Seems like the NRA has fingers in many pies.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

The Dems do the same thing. Both sides do it. This close to an election, it should wait.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y3 years ago

What...we worry? cont'd

They will go down in history as having sacrificed a major Constitutional principle - the independence of the 3 branches - for no good reason. Their majority on the Court died with Scalia, and blocking this nominee will not change that calculus. It's not even very good political chess. Incredibly asinine, let them do it!

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y3 years ago

Actually, American liberals need not fret too much about this. If the Republicans in the Senate are stupid enough to persist with this dudgeon, it will benefit their opponents in the short term, and possibly going long:

1. Garland is such a Constitutional moderate it will make them look like fools if the next President appoints someone much more liberal. There are MANY ultraconservative cases on the SC docket right now, and if they end up tied that means 'Stare Decisis' prevails and all that litigation and expense was for nothing. Federal District and Circuit courts have a habit of not overturning previous policy, even with conservative judges on those benches.

2. It will make them look guilty of government dysfunction to moderate voters. The SC are appointed for life for a reason: to stay above the fray of quotidian politics. Their party is going to lose Presidential and down-ballot votes and fence-sitters if they persist in this stupidity.

3. Worst of all, if they refuse to give this highly qualified candidate a fair hearing, it will trigger a Judicial 'nuclear option' in the future: When the tables are turned, then Democrats may not ever vet a Republican nominee in an election year. This has NEVER happened before (sometimes the opposing party votes them down, but they've NEVER refused to state whether they think the nominee is qualified, and why or why not). They will go down in history as having sacrificed a major Constitutional principle - the indepe

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman3 years ago

Roger H. wrote, " ...The Republicans are also opposing the current nominee for his prior rulings and views on various topics, which are contrary to the laws of the land, ... "

What rulings are your referring to Roger? Please cite examples.

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly3 years ago

The NRA needs to approve first? What a truly horrifying statement. I suppose someone will find that written in the Bible? or the Constitution ? The revised Drumpf version?

Mark Turner
3 years ago

These are the men that will shape the future.....