There is a vacuous argument making its way around the internet. Comment sections and twitter feeds are being flooded by a conservative talking point saying that the stolen Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination was merely tit for tat for the failed 1987 nomination of Robert Bork.
How are they different?
They are different in a few ways, but the most important is the most obvious, he was defeated by a vote that he got after a confirmation hearing. The fact that there was a hearing and a vote alone should be enough to keep it out of the talking points, but this is 2017 and we’ve really thrown out reason and logic, haven’t we?
Here is the bit that will really make those Facebook statuses look stupid, the vote that defeated the nomination was bipartisan. Two Democratic Senators voted for him, and six Republican Senators voted against.
Now that you think about that, it seems completely unrelated to Merrick Garland’s situation, doesn’t it?
Right, but wasn’t it politicized?
Absolutely, it was. There is no reason to try to say that there wasn’t a coordinated attack on the nomination, entirely based on rejecting him.
They did it because he still had the stink of Nixon on him and many thought Bork was too extreme for the highest court in the land.
Well, there you have it. I still think it is payback.
…and if you do, then you need to stick around after class for some extra credit. You need to get better acquainted with Justice Anthony Kennedy.
After Bork’s failed nomination, Reagan put forth Anthony Kennedy. Liberals and conservatives uniformly agreed that Kennedy was a fair and reasonable man.
Justice Kennedy was confirmed 97-0. The three missing votes came from two Democratic Senators being out of town and one being ill.
Anthony Kennedy is still on the court, and he often serves as a balanced swing vote between the more ideologically inclined Justices.
It isn’t clear what planet you have to come from to think that the opposition and failed vote of a nominee seems like the total refusal to have a hearing on Garland, but it has to be something in the outer reaches of reason.
Why didn’t they vote on Merrick Garland? What about the Thurmond Rule?
Now you’re doing this on purpose. The Thurmond rule is an unwritten rule, and as 2017 and President Trump’s refusal to protect the public by divesting has shown us, the decency of observing unwritten rules is out the window. Some interpretations also say that only a centrist should be nominated if anyone is to be nominated. Merrick Garland fits that description.
Bork received a hearing, and he received a vote. Kennedy, a Justice everyone could agree on, was then confirmed with no muss, no fuss.
If you have repeated this talkong point, stop. The GOP is counting on you to be bad at history, and apparently it is a reliable enough thing to depend upon.
Finally, Garland did not get a hearing because the GOP knew that they would not have any ammo to knock him down. Garland would have been a fair judge that everyone should have been able to agree on.