In 2005 after John Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush, this space noted he was a jurist with a keen intellect and an open mind. “This is a man who in the best traditions of the Supreme Court will grow on the job,” we wrote.
We could say the same of Merrick B. Garland, the federal judge nominated by President Barack Obama on Wednesday to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Garland, 63, is in his 19th year as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a high-profile appointment that has frequently served as a launching pad to the Supreme Court. The Harvard Law School graduate and one-time Supreme Court law clerk is a former prosecutor.
He is admired by a broad swath of politicians, both liberals and conservatives. Yet, Garland may very likely not get a chance to grow on the job of being a Supreme Court justice.
Following Scalia’s death, Senate Republicans vowed to not consider a replacement until President Obama was out of office. No private meetings with a nominee. No public hearings to sound out a nominee. And absolutely no chance of a Senate vote on the nominee.
Alabama’s Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions are solidly in the camp of senators who are on strike over a replacement for Scalia. What they and others couldn’t win at the polling place — the 2008 election and 2012 re-election of Obama — they are trying to short-circuit by failing to follow the Constitution’s guidance on staffing the Supreme Court.
We’d be surprised if Sessions or Shelby voted to confirm anyone Obama nominates, but Alabamians should be concerned that their senators won’t even make an effort to consider the man nominated to replace Scalia.