Home / Elections 2016 / Injustice In Congress: How A Historically Obstructionist Congress Saved The Best For Last By Refusing To Meet With Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee
Photo Credit: NY Times 
In nominating Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, President Obama has chosen a centrist appeals court judge widely respected even by Republicans.
Photo Credit: NY Times In nominating Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, President Obama has chosen a centrist appeals court judge widely respected even by Republicans.

Injustice In Congress: How A Historically Obstructionist Congress Saved The Best For Last By Refusing To Meet With Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee

President Obama announced on Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick B. Garland as the nation’s 113th justice, according to White House officials.  Garland is a centrist Federal Appeals Court judge widely respected on both sides of the aisle.

By moving to nominate Judge Garland, a well-known moderate with a career of bipartisan support spanning several decades, it would appear that President Obama is daring the GOP majority to affirm their stated intention to not meet with any nomination put forth before the 2017 inaugurations.

“This nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the polls,” Mr. McConnell said. “I agree with the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation that we not have hearings. In short, there will not be action taken.”

There is an added wrinkle of irony in the selection of Judge Garland by President Obama, given his lengthy political battle in the mid-1990s which significantly delayed his own confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by more than a year.

In making the announcement, White House officials were quick to note that Judge Garland was confirmed to his current post in 1997 with the support of seven sitting Republicans: Senators Dan Coats (R,IN) Thad Cochran (R,MS) Susan Collins (R,MI) Orrin G Hatch (R,UT) James M. Inhofe (R,OK) John McCain (R,AZ) and Pat Roberts (R,KS).

While considered very much to be a political moderate, if confirmed Judge Garland could tip the ideological balance in creating the most liberal Supreme Court in 50 years.

Injustice.in applauds President Obama for making a pragmatic, centrist choice while still affirming his commitment to a progressive agenda for America’s highest court.

Equally, we unequivocally condemn what is sure to be the latest impediment in a historically obstructionist Congress towards the policies of Obama.

Here are the highlights over the years:

  • 2009 – On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of top GOP luminaries and congressional leaders gathered discretely in a Washington steakhouse to outline a plan for how they would work with the incoming agenda. Among Senators Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, and Mitch McConnell, along with conservative congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan. They decided that night that they would fight Obama on everything, even the smallest policy points, so as to discredit and defecate on his legacy and sway approval ratings. If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”
  • 2010 – Having passed the Affordable Care Act despite widespread resistance from the GOP, former George W Bush speech-writer David Frum is ejected for writing this:

    At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994…Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan…Too late now. They are all the law.

  • 2011 – Former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren discusses the strategy in greater detail.

    A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

This strategy, of course, was intended to have such an adverse impact on the President’s approval ratings that it would result in the GOP accruing a landslide victory over him in 2012.

One problem: After 4 years without a real agenda, without a real identity, the quality of each main candidacy (Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum) was so uninspiring that the American people realized that they were much better off giving the President another 4 years.

None of these egregious abuses of power even begin to take into account the level of racially tinged disrespect he continues to suffer from those across the aisle, either.

Whether it was Newt Gingrich telling the National Review that President Obama follows a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview, Senator Tom Coburn claiming Obama only believes in government programs because he benefited from them as a Black American, to Sarah Palin spewing nonsense about Benghazi on Facebook and the President’s “Shuck and Jive Shtick,” the President has been steadfast in the face of continued hate and disrespect.

7 years later, in the face of continued obstruction, we have a president who has slashed the federal deficit, lowered unemployment to under 5%, 70+ months of consecutive job growth, significantly lowered gasoline prices, greatly expanded healthcare coverage, and restored America’s global standing following weakened perceptions during the Bush Administration.

Yet, despite all of these achievements, despite repeatedly pledging a bipartisan agenda aimed at improving the quality of all American lives, despite nominating a justice widely regarded for his  the Senate is still unjustly poised to continue to block any path for Obama’s nomination to be affirmed.

Moments before the announcement, Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, made a statement that was all too telling of the injustice both Obama and the American people have been made to endure under a historically stubborn GOP:

“We’ve been clear,” Lee said of his plan to reject Garland’s nomination.

It was never about the American people, Congressman Ryan.

It was always about making sure the President never accomplished anything.


About Adam Ciminello

Entrepreneurship, Social Justice, and the idea of Bono never performing again are all things that excite me. And yes, my grandma is cooler than yours. Say hi sometime on twitter @Aciminello

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