So it's a masterpiece of trolling from a guy who's become very, very good at that. I understand the frustration of the president's progressive supporters at the idea of a 60-ish white guy replacing a 70-ish dead white guy on the Supreme Court. (I would've preferred Jane Kelly from the Eighth Circuit, who already had heads exploding.) I'm sure there were several dozen more diverse, and clearly no-more-fcks-to-give, choices he could've made. But Garland's work as a supervising DOJ attorney in the Oklahoma City bombing case intrigues me, and it is likely to light up the far distant precincts of wingnuttia as well. At the very least, he's aware of the wildness loose in the country. He seems moderate and judicious and very unlikely to stray too far out of bounds from what this president and his supporters think a Supreme Court justice should be. His opinions on the appellate rights of criminal defendants could use some work, but he's not likely to join with the likes of Samuel Alito to take an ax to things like the Miranda decision. He's not a law'n'order guy. Tom Goldstein of the invaluable SCOTUSBlog put together a solid compendium of Garland's record the last time his name arose to fill a vacancy on the Court, when Garland was passed over in favor of Justice Elena Kagan.
All of which is, for the moment, anyway, moot. This is a purely tactical move, and it's an awfully good one. Right now, Republican senators are saying that they won't even take one-on-one meetings with the guy, let alone give him a committee vote, let alone give him a confirmation vote in the Senate. This was precisely the reaction the president was hoping for, although he didn't exactly have to be Nostradamus to make this play. But I want to know more about this comic book collection.
As I keep saying, if you know your opponent's reaction to your moves, or better yet, leave them only one real path to take in response, you've won the game. President Obama has done just that here, like he has time and again.
I was very worried in the past that this wouldn't work, but the selection of Garland, a jurist with impeccable credentials, highly regarded, and very smart, is exactly the person President Obama needed to both cement his legacy and to show the world that the GOP is fully responsible for obstructing. There's no both sides here, this is all the GOP, and the world knows it.
There's no cover for the 22 GOP Senators up for re-election in 2016. None. They are about to be hung out to dry by the party of Trump, and they know it.
And now the fun truly begins.