Folks, this one is a no-brainer.
Or at least it should be.
After the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the high court.
Obama should have stood by precedent and allowed the next president to nominate this crucial swing vote in a clearly divided court.
But he didn't.
Cleverly, he picked a sitting federal judge who has a record of being a court moderate.
The Republicans fell for the trap.
Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republicans say the next president should pick the Scalia's replacement. Considering a national election will be upon us soon, it's a fair argument and one I agree with.
But McConnell and Senate Republicans say they won't hold hearings, let alone give Garland a vote.
The Constitution offers no provision that lame duck presidential nominations should be ignored because the president is, well, a lame duck.
So how does this all look to the public? This is where Obama comes off smart. To the Republican Party's conservative base, the Senate Republicans look like heroes. They are finally standing up to Obama, giving him the proverbial finger.
The Senate Republicans' avoidance maneuver needs to be understood in the context of both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom have risen attacking the GOP establishment in Washington. These Republican Senators feel under siege from their own supporters.
Their anti-Garland position sends a message to the base: we are with you. Here's the problem. The public at large sees this very differently from the GOP base. The public sees it as GOP obstructionism, a label the big media has sought to affix to the GOP since Obama took office.
I don't believe this label is usually accurate, but this time it is.
The Constitution provides the president should nominate court appointees and the Senate offer its advice and consent. This typically involves Senate hearings and then a vote.
I was shocked to see a recent chart in The Washington Post
showing a graph of the 54 Senate Republicans. Only two support a vote on Garland and just 18 are even open to a simple meeting with the respected jurist.
This hardly seems like the Senate is playing its constitutional role.
It should be no surprise that the most recent Gallup poll of voter identification
shows the Democratic party leading the Republican party by 6 points, 46-40. They recently had been dead even and the new number is among the highest for Democrats in recent times.
Meanwhile Obama has been hitting record approval numbers.
These are not good signs for the GOP as it careens into November's election.
So here is different strategy map.
The Senate should hold Garland hearings. The Republicans should treat Obama's nominee with fairness, but ask tough questions.
They should see this as an incredible opportunity to show the public how important the court is to the future of the country, and how Obama has been moving the third branch far, far left.
Also Senate Republicans can use these hearings as a stage to talk about all of Obama's unilateral Executive Orders – from everything from Obamacare, to guns, to giving 5 million people work status without Congressional approval.
The senators can ask Garland if he thinks these acts are constitutional or not. Let the people see what's at stake here.
Then, after hearings, give Garland a fair vote.
If the Senate votes "no," that's fine. At least it engaged in the Constitutional process.
Senators can cite Obama's lame duck status or whatever reason they want, but take a vote.
Frame the debate over Garland into one about the future of the court and its usurpation of constitutional power, not to mention the Executive's guilt here as well.
Today, the "frame" is all about the do-nothing, obstructionist Republicans in the Senate.
By taking a different tack the GOP would be much better positioned to win the presidency come November, giving it a chance to actually select Scalia's replacement.
And what if the Democrats win in November?
By giving Garland a full hearing and vote, the Senate has set the stage for him to be the likely nominee of a Democratic president next year.
A moderate Justice Garland might not be a bad thing for Republicans under a new Democratic administration.
Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
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