How the Merrick Garland nomination explains the rise of Donald Trump

When you treat governing like a joke, you wind up picking a joke of a presidential candidate

When governing is treated as a joke...
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

When Antonin Scalia died and Republicans quickly announced that they would not just oppose whoever Barack Obama nominated to replace him on the Supreme Court but refuse to grant that nominee so much as a hearing, let alone a vote, no one who has watched American politics closely in recent years could have been surprised. Appalled, disgusted, outraged? Sure. But surprised? No.

The wise constitutional scholars in the GOP were quick to note that there's nothing in our government's foundational document that prevents them from doing what they're doing. The Constitution says the president "shall appoint" members of the Supreme Court, but it doesn't require that the Senate confirm his choices, nor does it lay down the particular procedures they need to follow. And if they decide that they won't even go through the motions in an election year, no one can stop them. So there.

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