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Republicans Are Winning the War Over Garland's SCOTUS Nomination

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justice Scalia's former seat on the Supreme Court has sat vacant for 125 days, as of today. That makes it the third longest Supreme Court vacancy in the 20th century, lasting almost three times as long as the average vacancy of 55 days. And in the three months since President Obama nominated D.C. Circuit Chief Justice Merrick Garland to fill that seat, the Senate has held no official meetings, hearings, or votes on the nomination.

When it comes to the battle over the empty Supreme Court seat, it looks like Senate Republicans are winning.

An Early Refusal and No Change Since

The very same day that Justice Scalia's death was announced, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared that the Senate would not consider a Supreme Court replacement until after the elections this coming November.

The move was considered shocking, and possibly detrimental to McConnell and his colleagues, at the time. McConnell's Democrat counterpart, Senate minority leader Harry Reid, doubted whether McConnell would be able to follow through:

If anybody can get his senators to all agree to go over a cliff and kill themselves, that's pretty good ... If I ever suggested something as absurd and bizarre as that to my caucus, they would revote and kick me the hell out of the caucus. I mean, really.

But McConnell has gotten plenty of support, even convincing the few senators who suggested supporting Garland to recant.

And there have been few political consequences for GOP Senators, despite strong public support for Garland's nomination. With the public focused on an election fueled by Bernie and Hillary battles and endless Trump-inspired controversies, the Supreme Court vacancy no longer garners many headlines.

The Fight Goes On

But that doesn't mean Garland isn't without support. The Obama administration continues to push, slowly but certainly, for the Senate to consider Garland's nomination. That started with informal meetings with the few Republican senators who agreed to sit down with the nominee. (None publicly agreed to support him.) It continued with the submission of Garland's Supreme Court questionnaire -- something the Senate Judiciary Committee never requested.

And just yesterday, general counsel from 44 of the country's biggest corporations wrote the Judiciary Committee to urge the Senate to begin hearings on the nomination, arguing that an under-staffed Court makes doing business difficult.

Garland, as well, has been waging a soft war on his own behalf. Speaking at an adorable fifth grade commencement, Garland explained that: "Dreams don't come true by magic, even if you're Harry Potter ... Go ahead and dream, and go ahead and work hard to make those dreams come true."

It remains to be seen if Garland's own hard work will be enough.

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