Why Merrick Garland will never be a Supreme Court justice

It's just not going to happen

Just a pawn?
(Image credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last week, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Does Garland have a chance of actually being confirmed by the Senate? Probably not, even if Hillary Clinton becomes president-elect with a pending Democratic Senate majority. Almost every signal suggests that Republican senators will remain committed to obstruction.

To start with the easy question first, you can forget about Garland getting confirmed before Election Day. Mitch McConnell has taken this position since before Scalia's funeral and he reiterated it unambiguously immediately after Garland's nomination was announced. And he's backed up by the Republican conference in the Senate. There will be no hearings, let alone a vote, before the election. Even some blue-state senators with the most to lose from Republican obstructionism, like New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, are reiterating their opposition to allowing the nomination of Garland to proceed. Mark Kirk, who represents Garland's home state of Illinois and is facing an uphill battle against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, has shown more openness, but he's not going to cause McConnell to budge.

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Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is a professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., with a focus on the Supreme Court and constitutional law. He is a frequent contributor to the American Prospect and blogs for Lawyers, Guns and Money.