Why the GOP Should Still Block Merrick Garland

Not that I object, but I think Red State’s Leon Wolf is a little misguided when he recommends that the Republican Senate confirm Merrick Garland now before Clinton nominates someone younger and more liberal.

It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the status Garland enjoys in Washington DC and among Senate Democrats, the administration and, undoubtedly, the Clinton family. It’s true that he might not have been Obama’s first pick if he had had a free hand, and he might not be Hillary’s first pick, either. But they aren’t going to betray him by revoking his nomination or failing to resubmit it in January. He’s a solid Supreme Court nominee who even most Republicans consider a decent choice.

So, Wolf is basically fear mongering his own conservative audience, which is a little strange but could just be based on his genuinely flawed analysis of the situation.

There’s actually a reason that the Republicans are holding up the nomination, and it has everything to do with their plan to boost turnout in November. They desperately want to be able to argue that social conservatives can still achieve a legal overturning of Roe v. Wade if only they can win the presidential election, and that argument completely disappears if Garland is confirmed to replace Scalia. This turnout consideration is more urgent than ever now that’s it’s obvious that Trump will be the nominee. Social conservatives (including the ones that frequent the Red State blog) are apoplectic about Trump being the Republican standard-bearer, and they aren’t going to turn out for him in their normal numbers.

Now, it’s Wolf’s assessment that none of this matters because Trump is going to lose anyway.

Republicans must know that there is absolutely no chance that we will win the White House in 2016 now. They must also know that we are likely to lose the Senate as well. So the choices, essentially, are to confirm Garland and have another bite at the apple in a decade [because of Garland’s age], or watch as President Clinton nominates someone who is radically more leftist and 10-15 years younger, and we are in no position to stop it.

And if you believe he is going to lose anyway, then why does turnout matter?

Well, it matters for downticket races and control of the Senate and the House. It matters for state legislatures and governor’s mansions.

So, providing the fiction to social conservatives that reproductive rights can still be abolished in the near term is key for Republicans’ success. This hasn’t changed.

What seems to have changed is the social conservatives’ willingness to play their part in the charade.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.