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Get to Work or Wait for the Voters’ Verdict

Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is President Obama’s nominee, as we all know, for the vacant seat on the US Supreme Court. The deadbeat Republicans in the US Senate, using their usual underhanded tricks, have refused to even consider this nominee or any other put forth by the president. How many things are wrong with this stonewalling posture?

* We see the results—all truly controversial issues of great import go undecided by the Supremes now because they are at a 4-4 tie.

* Republican leadership is virtually unanimous in being factually woefully in error that there is a rule or a custom not to make such nominations in the final year of a presidency. This is something that might be unusual but hardly rare, and presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson to Dwight Eisenhower and more have all done so, some successfully, some not, all at least were afforded a normal process.

* Republicans need to stop calling President Obama a lame duck. He is not. After the election and before inauguration is the lame duck period. He is just a sitting president currently and he did his job finding a nominee.

* By saying that a president cannot do his job—that we elected him to do twice—that logic should ridiculously extend to all elected officials because they might not get re-elected, so they presumably can’t make any decisions until we “let the American people decide the direction of the court.” Instead of an early July 4 recess to avoid thinking about banning assault weapons, just recess until next January, without your obstructionist pay.

I personally wish President Obama would have nominated someone with a stronger human rights, civil rights, and environmental protection track record. But at the very least, the Senate should do its job and hold the hearings and confirm or reject the Garland nomination. TheAmerican Bar Association gave the judge its highest rating and he was confirmed easily by a bipartisan vote to the Circuit Court.

President Obama was just handed a defeat on shielding the parents of Dreamers from deportation, a 4-4 tie by the stymied Supremes that let stand the ruling of a lower court because that’s what a tie vote does. This question—and all others that are close and controversial–cannot be dispositively decided until sometime in the distant future, after the election, after inauguration, after nomination, after hearings, after possible confirmation. Nice job, Republicans, you scofflaw dirty tricksters. I hope the American people do indeed decide the direction of the court by voting you out.

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Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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