Politics & National Security

Republicans: Are You Really Sure You Want to Block Merrick Garland?

By Timothy Edgar
Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 1:15 PM

Ben Wittes makes a strong case for Merrick Garland’s impressive record and impeccable qualifications, including his national security expertise. I look forward to reading more about him.

Progressives may well be disappointed by a 63-year-old white male former prosecutor who leans toward the government on Fourth Amendment issues. Given Antonin Scalia's occasional libertarian streak, it's seems at least conceivable that replacing Scalia with Garland will actually push the Supreme Court towards the government's positions on questions of privacy, national security, and terrorism.

As a result, I suspect that many of my civil liberties colleagues hope that the Republicans follow through on their threats to block any Obama nominee, no matter who he is. Given yesterday's primary results it seems quite likely Clinton will defeat Trump in a wave election that brings Democrats to power in the Senate.

If Republicans block Garland, the result may well be that Clinton nominates, and the Senate confirms, a younger, more liberal candidate more to the liking of civil libertarians. Senate Republicans must realize this. Obama may be hoping this reality will focus their minds on whether they really want to block Merrick Garland.