President Barack Obama on Thursday said that Senate Republicans' refusal to consider his Supreme Court nominee is a symptom of broader political polarization. "Merrick Garland is an extraordinary jurist, who is indisputably qualified to serve on the highest court of the land, and nobody really argues otherwise," Obama said of his pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia. "The question then is why is it so hard for the guy to get a hearing?" The president said that while both parties have objected to Supreme Court nominees in the past, the Republicans' refusal to give Garland a hearing is "unprecedented." "There has not been a circumstance when a Republican president's nominee did not get a hearing, did not get a vote, and as a general process they have been confirmed even when there have been strong objections," he said.
A US Senate tactic known as a filibuster has just been used for the first time in half a century to block a Supreme Court nominee. Democrats rejected Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the highest court in the land by a 55-45 vote on Thursday. The move will leave Congress even more plagued by bickering and deadlock. Republicans - who control the upper chamber by 52 seats to 48 - fell short of the 60 votes they needed to confirm the Colorado appeals court judge. His confirmation would preserve a conservative majority on the top court.
President-elect Donald Trump will take office with a chance to fill more than 100 seats on the federal courts, thanks mostly to an extraordinary two-year slowdown in judicial confirmations engineered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Since Republicans took control of the Senate at the beginning of the 114th Congress last year, senators have voted to confirm only 22 of President Obama's judicial nominees. By contrast, when Democrats controlled the Senate in the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency, 68 of his judicial nominees were confirmed. More than twice as many vacancies, 107, exist on federal benches than when Bush left office. In total, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts counts 890 slots for full-time federal judges.
President Trump tells small business people on Jan. 30, 2017 that he will announce his'unbelievably highly respected' Supreme Court pick on Tuesday evening. In an early morning tweet, Donald Trump announced today that he will reveal his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court during a live television broadcast in prime time Tuesday night. If confirmed, the nominee will fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016. Although President Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat, Senate Republicans refused to consider the nomination until after the 2016 election. The announcement of Trump's Supreme Court pick was originally expected Thursday.
One of 2016's most spectacular examples of government dysfunction was the U.S. Senate's outrageous refusal to consider President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. That dereliction of duty by the Republican majority not only denied a sitting president his constitutional prerogative to fill vacancies in the court (so that the appointment would go instead to a hoped-for Republican successor). It also prevented the court from resolving a handful of cases because of a 4-4 split and probably discouraged the justices from accepting other cases because of the possibility of a similar deadlock. Less well known is the fact that the Senate also failed to hold floor votes on 24 Obama nominees for lifetime federal judgeships who had been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are among 59 aspiring judicial appointees whose nominations will expire when the 114th Congress fades into history this month.