Merrick Garland is the safest, least ideological nominee President Obama could have made, which means that the president wants to put pressure on Senate Republicans more than he wants to energize his base.
Chief Judge Garland is assuredly a liberal vote on the most controversial, culture-war issues, but he’s just as surely the most moderate Democratic-leaning jurist under consideration on cases that fly under the radar. But as I said last month, in this hazy, crazy, bizarre election year, this Supreme Court seat should remain vacant until the American people can decide whether they want to swing the balance of the Supreme Court, possibly for decades.
Scalia was one of four conservatives on the Court, who, when joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, formed a majority crucial for enforcing the First and Second Amendments, federalism, the separation of powers, and other constitutional protections for individual liberty. If he’s replaced by a progressive jurist – or even a ‘moderate’ one – all that comes crashing down and there will be no further check on the sorts of executive abuses that have only increased under a president who thinks that when Congress doesn’t act on his priorities, he somehow gets the authority to enact them regardless.