President Obama will be in position in eight months to grant Hillary Clinton, if she is to be President-elect Hillary Clinton, a housewarming gift.
On Meet The Press, Senator Jeff Flake was asked by Chuck Todd if, in view of the assured nomination of Donald Trump, he no longer believes that the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court should not be considered until after the election. The Arizona Republican replied
I think Republicans are more than justified in waiting. That is following both principle and precedent. But the principle is to have the most conservative, qualified jurists that we can have on the Supreme Court, not that the people ought to decide before the next election. I've never held that position.
If we come to a point, I've said all along, where we're going to lose the election, or we lose the election in November, then we ought to approve him quickly. Because I'm certain that he'll be more conservative than a Hillary Clinton nomination comes January.
An analogy, applicable to Flake's home state, comes to mind. Second Degree Burglary in Arizona is defined in part as burglary of a home, which is a "Class 3 Felony" and thus carries punishment of 2.5 to 3 years in prison. Imagine that an individual, whom we'll call "Johnnie Walker," is charged with such an offense and is offered by the prosecutor a plea bargain of 2.5 years of imprisonment in return for pleading guilty.
Walker turns down the deal and is found guilty as charged. Recognizing that he could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison, Walker (through his attorney) announces that he's willing to accept the plea bargain.
Too late.. He had his chance, decided to gamble, and lost the bet. It is now in the hands of the Judge, whom Walker better hope has never had her house,or that of a close relative, broken into.
Barack Obama was (re-) elected president for four years and the death of Associate Justice Scalia occurred with nearly a year to go in that term. Senate leadership owes it to the American people to give Judge Garland a hearing before the Judiciary Committee. However, Chairperson Grassley and Majority Leader McConnell want to wait the Democrats out, gambling that a Republican will be elected President in November.
Constitutionally, they have that right and it may play out for them. However, if President Obama has a backbone, he will make it clear to the GOP that there will be no second bite at the apple. If Republicans want to play the odds as they see them, so be it. But he ought to announce that he will withdraw the nomination after the election if no action is taken on it before then. (Obviously, if the Republican wins, the issue is moot.)
Jeff Flake evidently believes that Clinton would send to the Hill the name of a particularly progressive individual for the Senate's consideration. If Barack Obama were to withdraw Garland's name after the election, he would be denied the opportunity to have appointed three individuals to the Supreme Court. It would be a blow to a President's ego but a great opportunity for the next president and a possible boon to the liberal cause and to the nation. And he wouldn't be played for a sucker.