More Utahns want immediate Merrick Garland Supreme Court confirmation

President Barack Obama meets with Judge Merrick B. Garland in the Oval Office, Washington, D.C., March 9, 2016 | Official White House photo by Pete Souza, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — When President Obama nominated appeals court judge Merrick Garland in March to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, Utah Republican leaders were quick to reject the president’s nomination. However, given the recent political landscape, a recent poll reported that more Utahns would prefer to see Garland confirmed now as opposed to waiting until after the November election.

The poll – commissioned by and conducted by Dan Jones & Associates – posited that some have argued that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Senate should confirm Garland before she takes office and potentially chooses a more liberal appointment.

Respondents were asked to state where they stood on the issue, with the following results:

  • Confirm Garland now: 41 percent
  • Don’t confirm Garland; wait for Clinton nominee if she wins: 31 percent
  • Confirm Garland if Clinton wins: 11 percent
  • Don’t know: 17 percent

As a Supreme Court nominee, Garland represents a departure from Obama’s previous two choices of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Sotomayor was the first Hispanic confirmed to the court, and Kagan was only the fourth woman.

While Garland is expected to align with the more liberal members of the court, he is generally perceived as more moderate and has seen previous support from both sides of the aisle, including praise from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. However, following Obama’s announced nomination in March, Hatch – along with many other Senate Republicans – came out in opposition of the nomination.

The arguments against the nomination didn’t seem to be against Garland so much as the timing of the nomination, during what Hatch referred to as the “toxic presidential election season.” The general sentiment was that the Senate should wait until after the election.

“The Constitution grants the President the power to nominate a candidate for the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death,” Hatch said. “The Constitution likewise gives the Senate the power to provide its advice and decide whether to grant or withhold its consent to that nomination.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee echoed these sentiments. He said:

We will not have any hearings or votes on President Obama’s pick. Any meeting with any nominee put forward by President Obama would only be a waste of the Senate’s time.

In a statement released by the Utah Democratic Party, the attempt by Sens. Hatch and Lee to block Obama’s nomination was labeled as “inexcusable and unacceptable.”

“It is clear that Lee and Hatch are once again placing the petty politics of an election year above their constitutional duties and above the interests of the American people, who deserve to have a fully functioning government.”

Read more: Obama nominates Merrick Garland for Supreme Court; Utah senators, Democratic Party chime in

Now that the landscape has changed and the Republican and Democratic nominations have been secured – with Clinton showing anywhere from a 5-15 percent lead over Trump – concerns have arisen on both sides of the issue regarding waiting until after the election to hold hearings on Garland’s confirmation.

Along party lines, 40 percent of Republicans are willing to wait it out, reporting that they don’t believe Garland should be confirmed now, as opposed to 22 percent saying he should be confirmed and 19 percent who believe he should be confirmed if Clinton is elected.

On the Democratic side, whether out of concern for a possible Trump victory or respect for the president’s nomination, the majority – 80 percent – believe the Senate should confirm Garland now, with 11 percent responding that Clinton should be able to pick the nominee if she wins.

Of the Utah independents polled, 49 percent said they believed the confirmation should take place now, and 26 percent said Clinton should pick the nominee.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Henry July 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    This will really be a moot point if Hillary becomes President. In addition to Scalia’s vacant seat, President Hillary will likely have 3 other vacancies to fill. Bader-Ginsberg will be age 83, Kennedy 80, Breyer 78. Kennedy is a Reagan appointee that’s been a swing vote; the other two are politically reliably Left.

    It’s a no-brainier that President Hillary would backfill reliably Left Justices Bader-Ginsberg and Breyer with reliably Left Justices. If President Hillary gets reliably Left Justices to replace Scalia (Merrick or TBD) and Kennedy, the balance of political power for the SCOTUS will become 3 to 6 in favor of the reliably Left Justices.

    The SCOTUS will become a de facto rubber stamp for President Hillary, and with the lifetime appointment of Justices, it would be a generation (if ever) that the balance of political power will shift back from the Left.

    • Bender July 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Yep. Political polarization and the extreme rightward drift of the R party has the government in a deadlock. Right now the crazies are the gatekeepers of what gets done by the Republicans. This means no compromise, ever, and that means nothing is getting done.

      This country needs a healthy, and sane, Republican party. Maybe this election cycle will be the fever that burns away the infection.

      • Henry July 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Bender – the party that has purged moderates is the Democrats, not the Republicans. Compare the number of moderate Democrats today versus 20 years ago. At the national level, they’re almost extinct.

        The most vociferous attackers of Trump are the “conservatives”, not the moderates.

        It takes 2 sides to compromise. When only one side makes concessions, it’s called capitulation not compromise. Obama and the Democrats are the ones that have dug in their heels and not budged one inch, not the Republicans.

        • Bender July 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm

          Nonsense. Both sides moved but the Republicans took it to Defcon 5. Witness the presidential primaries. You’re going to have to name me the moderate Republicans at the state or national level… in my view they have mostly been chased into the shadows. The punk twerp Mike Lee chased Bob Bennett out of the Senate. It’s why Romney knew he could not make it though the primaries this year with his dignity intact.

          Conservatives hate Trump? Depends on your definition of a conservative I guess. The Tea Party seems to dig him. I think the extreme right wing of the party sees him as an ally even if they don’t agree with his (shifting) stances. Thoughtful and brave Republicans are making their distaste for him known but none of them fit my definition of extreme right wingers.

          You may want to broaden the sources of your intake of information. You won’t get this impression from Newsmax or AM radio, but there is no comparison between the intransigence of the R party compared to the Dems.

          • Henry July 10, 2016 at 1:56 pm

            Bender – Utter rubbish. Are you serious about naming the moderate Republicans in the presidential primaries? In a 11 June 2015 article, Huffington Post identified the following Republicans in the primary race as having moderate political positions on issues: Rand Paul George Patacki, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Jim Gilmore, Jeb Bush Carly Fiorina, and John Kasich. Or is Huffington Post too much of a right-wing source for you? : )

            You contradict yourself on categorizing Mike Lee. In the first paragraph, you call him a “punk twerp”. In the second paragraph (addressing Conservatives attacking Trump), you say “the Tea Party seems to dig him” – really? Mike Lee has been proclaimed a “darling of the Tea Party”, but he has been strident in his attacks on Trump. Some other Republican primary candidates that HuffPo characterized as conservative – Lindsey Graham, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz – are either opposing Trump or offering lukewarm support. Conservative columnists opposed to Trump include Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, and George Will.

            You childish last paragraph demonstrates the dangers of trying to stereotype people. I’m a registered Democrat, voter ID # xxxx225, here in St George. I’ve lived abroad almost 7 years, married a foreign national, and have “limited working proficiency” in a non-English language. I get the majority of my printed news from non-U.S. sources.

            Let’s now do a character profile on you. You’re an LDS adherent or sympathizer. “Respectful” dialogue is paramount, even more than political positions. You support a scripted corrupt candidate with poor judgment, over a loudmouth with political views that won the most Republican primary votes in history. Republican Party bosses or LDS elders should select/approve political nominees, and all the “little people” voters should fall in line with their guidance. Your favorite intake for political guidance is National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal, and maybe even the Ensign (or other LDS publications). Et tu, Brute?

          • Bob July 10, 2016 at 6:08 pm

            i think he’s a very lukewarm mormon, more of a social club mormon that just hangs on to it for the wife. didn’t know he was a romney fanboy tho. i wanna get profiled too!, LOL

          • Henry July 11, 2016 at 11:56 am

            Bob – LOL. No need for a profile, because you’re the most known denizen of St George News. Can we get your autograph?

  • ladybugavenger July 8, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    80 years old, dang! Isn’t time to retire and enjoy life?

  • Bob July 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    was Garland born in Israel? I wouldn’t be at all surprised…

    • .... July 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Tell us about it Elder dumbob

  • 42214 July 8, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Garland is the best conservatives can hope for and should be seated. Hillary’s choices will be much worse. Better buy a lot of sugar because it will help the medicine go down when Hillary is President. What a mess we have gotten ourselves into.

    • Henry July 8, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      42214 – if Hillary is elected, then (to paraphrase Hillary) what difference will it make? Even if Garland turns out to be a swing vote, the SCOTUS balance would still become reliably Left under President Hillary; the balance would just be 4-5 instead of 3-6.

      All the Justices nominated by Obama (2) and Bill Clinton (2) have been VERY predictably Left in their decisions, as we can assume Hillary’s nominees would be too (or at least enough to turn the SCOTUS balance to the Left). So with or without Garland, the Left under President Hillary would be able to ram through the SCOTUS whatever they want.

      I still hold out hope for Trump winning. If not, Hillary will ramp up Obama’s disasters of the past 7+ years and “resistance will be futile”.

      • Bender July 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

        > I still hold out hope for Trump winning

        When partisan politics trumps common sense you get statements like this.

        • Henry July 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm

          When narrow-mindedness excuses corruption and poor judgment, you get statements like Bender’s.

      • 42214 July 10, 2016 at 11:52 am

        Henry, I agree with you. Just saying that Garland is too moderate for Hillary and it’s at least one less leftie for her.

        • Henry July 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          Thank you 42214, no worries. I believe we’re in agreement on the gist of the issue – President Hillary will be like the proverbial kid in a candy shop when it comes to nominating Leftists to the SCOTUS.

          • .... July 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm

            It’s pretty much done LOL ! We’re getting Hillary Clinton .

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