Merrick Garland Nominated for Supreme Court

By Sophie Brown, Reporter

On Feb. 13, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died from natural causes in his hotel room at the age of 79. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia was the leading conservative judge on the Supreme Court. Immediately following his death, controversy reigned over whether President Barack Obama should pick a replacement, or whether the decision should be put off, being that it is an election year.

When a president nominates a candidate, the candidate is then turned down or approved by the Senate. If approved, this justice serves for the rest of his or her life or retirement. With a liberal president, the majority conservative senate has demanded the nomination be put off, not wanting their 5 to 4 control of the Supreme Court to be flipped. However, Obama decided to go ahead with the nomination, and on March 16, nominated Democrat Merrick Garland.

Garland is currently a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Although formally a Democrat, Garland is known as being a political centrist. Obama considered Garland in both 2009 and 2010, before opting for the more progressive choices of justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Many view this “lukewarm” candidate as an attempt to please both parties. With a Republican controlled Senate, progressive choices like Sotomayor and Kagan may not be realistic in an election year.

Senator Mitch McConnell is already refusing to consider Garland. He would rather wait until the next president is chosen than have Obama pick the nominee. He has demanded that Republican lawmakers stop the nomination, and claimed that this nomination was Obama’s attempt to politicize the process.

Some suggest that the “moderate” choice of Garland wasn’t moderate at all, bringing up his history of outspokenness on gun control related cases. A strong opinion of Justice Scalia was on the Second Amendment, or the right of an individual to keep and bear arms. Conservatives fear that Garland would vote against this opinion. He has also shown support in environmental issues and civil rights issues. However, his lack of diversity, and friendliness toward conservative co-workers is making progressives uneasy.

The Senate is currently deciding whether Garland will be the next United States Supreme Court Justice. Garland may join the court in due time, or we may have to wait for the next U.S. president to have a full Supreme Court again.