Democrats and liberal activists are disappointed with President Obama’s pick to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court because he is uninspiring and does not add diversity to the high court, according to MSNBC.
Obama announced Wednesday morning in the White House Rose Garden that Merrick Garland, current chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is his nominee for the Supreme Court.
Garland would replace conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last month, leaving an opening on the high court during an election year characterized by hyper-partisan tensions.
The president touted Garland’s credentials and integrity, adding that he is even-handed while Republicans have spoken well of him in the past.
But beyond facing a tough battle with Senate Republicans in confirming his nominee, Obama may face some backlash from his own liberal Democratic base.
MSNBC’s White House correspondent Ron Allen said before the formal announcement that he has spoken with Democrats and activists who have been in consultation with the White House about the president’s pick, and they are not happy with the decision to go with Garland.
“I’ve been talking to some Democrats, some activists … who the White House is counting on to be out there beating the drums and trying to rally the base for this nominee, and the word that I’m hearing [from them] is ‘uninspiring,’ Allen said. “I’m also hearing the word ‘disappointing.’”
Allen explained that the disappointment stems from the fact that Garland is boring and does not bring diversity to the high court.
“His age, he’s in his 60s; he’s white; he’s from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; he’s from Harvard,” Allen listed as some of the reasons why Democrats are not thrilled with Garland. “He does not bring what people see as more diversity to the court, diversity in terms of his legal background, in terms of his ethnic background.”
He added that supporters of the president were hoping for a “historic” pick and will wonder why Obama made this decision.
“It has long been said that we expected President Obama to do something unusual to bring diversity,” Allen also said, pointing out that part of the White House strategy with the Supreme Court nomination is to make it a public fight and “essentially shame Republicans into holding a hearing and a vote on this nominee.”
Senate Republicans, led by majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), have promised not to hold any hearings for the Supreme Court opening until after the presidential election in November.
They argue it is unprecedented for a president to nominate someone for the high court during their final year in office and that the American people should have a voice in the matter by voting for the next president.
Conservatives have also been concerned that Obama would pick a liberal jurist to fill the vacancy and tilt the balance of power of the court to the left with Scalia’s passing.
President Obama and Senate Democrats have said it is the president’s constitutional duty to nominate someone for the court and the Senate’s duty to at least give the nominee a fair hearing and hold a vote for confirmation.
Republicans argue that, while the president has every right to put forth a nominee, the Senate has the same right under the Constitution to not take up the confirmation process with that nominee.
Some commentators have said Obama put forth a more moderate pick than some had expected to pressure Republicans to feel obligated to hold hearings.
Most Republicans seem to be taking a principled position on the matter, however, saying they will not hold hearings regardless until the American people have spoken and elected a new president to office.