On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey met with President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Judge Merrick Garland. But if that looks like a sign that Toomey has come around to reason on this issue, don’t be fooled.
Even before the meeting, Toomey said that he would meet with Judge Garland in order to tell him that he doesn’t believe the Senate should even give him a hearing or otherwise go forward with his confirmation process. Toomey reiterated this stance after the meeting, telling reporters that the American people should have some say in this by selecting the next president.
Newsflash to Toomey: Americans already did weigh in, when we resoundingly elected President Barack Obama to lead our country in both 2008 and 2012.
Underpinning the Republican senator’s continuing insistence that Americans should have a voice about the president who nominates the next Supreme Court justice is the deeply insulting assumption that Obama’s presidency is somehow not real. As any kindergarten student knows, our country already has a president. And as president, it was Obama’s constitutional duty to put forward a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death — a duty that he thoughtfully carried out.
Now, it’s the Senate’s job to consider that nominee not to continue suggesting that Obama shouldn’t be the one making the nomination.
Throughout Obama’s time in office, Republican leadership has worked to undermine his legitimacy and say no to any effort his administration has undertaken. It’s a campaign steeped in disrespect for the country’s first African-American president that has featured ugly, racist undertones from the start.
This approach hit a new low earlier this year when GOP senators took the unprecedented position that they would not consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee no matter who it was.
As Politico reported at the time, there is no precedent for a sitting president to hand over his power of high-court appointment at the request of any member of the legislative branch? That Senate Republicans would even push for that shows an appalling lack of respect for both the president and the constitutional process of filling a Supreme Court vacancy.
Despite the fact that multiple polls have shown that close to 6 in 10 Pennsylvania voters believe the Senate should consider Judge Garland’s nomination, so far Toomey has stayed in line with his Washington, D.C., party leadership and put partisan politics above his responsibility as a senator to do his job.
He has repeated the talking points attacking Obama’s right and duty to put forward a nominee, going as far as to say that should Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination. In other words, Toomey has openly stated that his problem is that it’s Obama doing the nominating.
It’s hard to get more disrespectful than that.
On Tuesday evening, Toomey underscored his opposition to Garland’s confirmation, saying that his meeting with the judge did not assuage my concerns.
But Toomey still has time to do the right thing and abandon his obstructionist stance. If he cares about the views of his constituents, and about the Constitution, Toomey should follow up his meeting with Garland with a call for timely hearings and an up-or-down vote.