Editor-in-Chief and A&E Editor
One of the most controversial issues in President Barack Obama’s second term started when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Feb. 12, leaving a vacancy in the Court that many Republicans did not want to be filled until after the upcoming election. On March 16, however, Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a respected federal judge who has been praised as a unifying, level-headed force in Washington by members of both parties. Justice Scalia, on the other hand, was a more aggressive, divisive judge who was not afraid to ruffle feathers. He was also a conservative, giving the Republicans a 5-4 majority in the court. Republicans are currently doing everything they can to stop Obama from putting in a more liberal judge and giving Democrats the majority. There is no doubting Garland’s credentials, but there are still many detractors on the right who feel as if the appointment should not be made by a president in his final year in office as his decision will not necessarily be in line with the upcoming leadership change.
Now, after Obama’s nomination of Garland, Republicans are refusing to confirm him as the new justice. “All we are doing is following the long-standing tradition of not fulfilling a nomination in the middle of a presidential year,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The principle is the American people are choosing their next president, and their next president should pick this Supreme Court nominee.”
This is not the first time that there has been a similar controversy regarding a Supreme Court appointment, though it is the first time that a justice has died during a presidential election year. The Republican leadership is claiming that there is a precedent of not confirming Supreme Court nominees during election years, though Democrats have been noting that over twelve nominations have been confirmed by the senate during similar periods of time. Still, there have always been politicians on both sides who have expressed concern over last minute nominations in the past. Even Vice President Joe Biden has argued against election year confirmation while he was in the senate. Regardless, there is still continuing debate over whether or not the senate is constitutionally required to consider Garland’s nomination or not, and the issue is only adding to the tension that currently exists in Washington.