The battle began within hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing that the Senate Republicans would not consider a nominee by Obama to replace him, but rather, would wait until after the election and let the new president pick the justice. Of course, this relates to both their complete contempt for Obama and their desire for the departed conservative justice to be replaced by another conservative justice, not a liberal or even a moderate. The battle lines were drawn before the President had even opened his mouth on the subject.
Now, President Obama has nominated someone: Merrick Garland, a man who ordinarily would have no trouble getting Republicans to support his confirmation–and who in fact didn’t have trouble getting Republicans to confirm him for the position he holds now on the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals. But from the Republicans’ point of view, it’s the “principle.”
Democrats are putting pressure on certain Senate Republicans who are coming up for re-election this year in states that are not securely Republican. This guy is one of them.
Other relevant pieces:
And all of this is relevant to material discussed in class about (1) the configuration of the COurt and its effect on outcomes of hot-button cases, (2) the confirmation process in the Senate, (3) the fact that a third of the Senate comes up for re-election at a time, and (4) everything concerning the behavior of political parties in Congress and elsewhere.