Trump election alters future of the Supreme Court

November 10, 2016
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Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court, lost his remaining chance for confirmation hearings after Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's election.

Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court, lost his remaining chance for confirmation hearings after Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s election.

Justice Scalia died nearly nine months ago.  His seat remains vacant.  Republicans have denied President Obama’s nominee a hearing, instead claiming that it was too late in his term to be able to make such a critical nomination.  On Tuesday night, Merrick Garland may have lost his chance to ever get that hearing.  The Chief Judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, Garland was hoping that Republican opposition would abate after the election, but before inauguration, of the next President.  If Hillary Clinton had won, some Republicans viewed Garland, a moderate, as a safer selection than an unknown Clinton selection.  However, Donald Trump won.  Moreover, Republican Senators did not pay a price for their unprecedented delay.  As mentioned in a previous TeenJury post, this seat has been vacant far longer than the 125 day record Justice Brandeis previously set for time between nomination and confirmation. Republicans kept their Senate majority, which was seriously in doubt on Election Day.  Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer at the Cato Institute said in The New York Times, “Senate Republicans’ strategy of not even considering Garland, of letting the American people decide who gets to fill Scalia’s seat, worked. Not only that, but it didn’t at all hurt vulnerable senators running for re-election.” Therefore, President-elect Trump will take office on January 20, 2017, with Republican control of the House and Senate.  During the presidential debates, he expressed his opinion that he looks to the late Justice Scalia as a model for future nominees.  Clearly, Judge Garland’s centrist record is quite different from Scalia’s very conservative judicial philosophy.  When Congress adjourns in December, ending the Senate’s session, Judge Garland’s nomination will expire. Trump will likely place a high priority on quickly choosing someone to fill this vacancy.  Trump issued two lists of potential nominees during the campaign.  He is not bound to chose from either list.  Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court.” Given the ideological balance of the bench, the lifetime appointments, and the current age of several senior justices, the Judiciary Committee will have a prominent role in overseeing the Senate’s constitutional duties.

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