Long ago and in a city far away (well, not that long ago – 2016 – and in the national capital – which is a day and a half's drive) then sitting president, Barack H. Obama exercised his constitutional prerogative to nominate Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court to fill a vacancy on the High Court following the sudden death of Justice Antonin "Nino" Scalia.
Nothing out of the ordinary there. Presidents of every stripe have been nominating persons to federal judgeships since the inception of the republic. That notion was nixed in a seeming flash by U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who flatly stated that Judge Garland would not receive a hearing nor would he get an up-or-down vote from the full Senate.
In his justification for this indefensible action, he cited the "Biden Rule" from 2008 as his guidepost. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, there is no such rule as the Biden Rule. Never was; never will be. It is a "straw man" erected to give McConnell and his GOP colleagues cover.
And in a letter published in The Daily Times in 2016, I made the very point that Merrick Garland deserved and merited a full and complete hearing in front of the Senate's Judiciary Committee followed by referral to the Senate floor for a vote by 100 sitting senators. Did not happen.
This year another vacancy has occurred on the Supreme Court. It falls to President Donald J. Trump to nominate a person who is qualified and competent to preside over any and all legal issues confronting the Court.
Just as I argued four years ago, the current president has the absolute right and, indeed, the constitutional obligation to put forth a nominee, whether it's 45 days before a national election or five days before. But the big difference this political season is that Sen. McConnell has seen the light and reversed his attitude toward confirming a high court nominee in an election year.
But I also contend that President Trump is well within his statutory rights to place a nomination before the Senate. We'll all know in a couple months if his decision was the right one.
Ken Klanicki, Valdosta