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Florida Senate candidates react to Merrick Garland SCOTUS nomination

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The first news release announcing Merrick Garland‘s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was simple: “NOMINATION SENT TO THE SENATE: Merrick B. Garland, of Maryland, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, vice Antonin Scalia, deceased.”

President Barack Obama‘s shop asserts that “Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. No one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court.”

Maybe so.

Garland was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit 76-23 19 years ago, which would seem to bode well. If this were 1997, Garland might be a slam dunk.

However, in 2016, make no mistake: This will be the partisan backdrop of the upcoming campaigns for federal office, as we see with Florida Senate candidates.

Florida Republicans pan the move:

“I strongly oppose President Obama’s decision to blatantly ignore precedent and the will of the American people by putting up a Supreme Court nominee during an election year. This President has proven we cannot trust him to uphold the Constitution, and we cannot trust that a nominee he puts forward will rule in accordance with the Constitution. I encourage Sen. McConnell to continue to stay fast in his usage of the checks and balances of the United States Senate. As Florida’s next United States Senator I will always ensure justice nominees uphold our Constitution in the regard to what our Founding Fathers envisioned,” U.S. Senate candidate and Lt. Gov.  Carlos Lopez-Cantera said.

“President Obama has done enough damage to this country and the Constitution, we must not let him do anymore. The Senate cannot allow him to fill the seat of a conservative judicial giant like Antonin Scalia with a liberal Obama puppet. The President’s nominee is especially dangerous because his record shows he wants to take away our Second Amendment rights,” said Carlos Beruff, another Senate hopeful, “Republicans in the United States Senate must stand strong against President Obama’s liberal Supreme Court nominee. The American people elected a Republican Senate in direct response to the extreme agenda of this administration, and that Senate has a responsibility to do whatever it can to stop Obama from further damaging our country.”

“Let’s be clear about what is at stake here: President Obama has spent seven years trampling on our Constitution – going after gun rights, states’ rights, religious freedom and the privacy rights of each and every American. Today’s nomination sideshow is Obama’s swan song attempt to destroy the basic rights on which this country was founded once and for all. Senators must fight this until the American people have an opportunity to put in place conservatives who, like Justice Scalia, understand the basic principles of liberty and freedom as enshrined in our Constitution by our Founders from this nation’s very beginning,” said Senate candidate Todd Wilcox.

“President Obama’s decision to nominate a Supreme Court Justice blatantly denies the American people a voice in shaping the direction of our nation and the High Court. This is a simple matter of upholding a long-standing tradition against acting on Supreme Court nominations during a presidential election year. It has been nearly 80 years since a president last made a nomination during a lame-duck presidency,” said Rep. Dennis Ross.

“For the president to claim the Senate must vote on his nominee highlights the hypocrisy given the words and actions of Senate Democrats in previous election years. Even Vice President Joe Biden agreed with the American people’s current demand for refrainment in 1992 when he was the U.S. Senator of Delaware, stating to President George H. W. Bush, ‘[I]t is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not–and not–name a nominee until after the November election is completed.’ There is no backtracking on this one.

“The Constitution does NOT mandate the Senate confirm a nomination. I support the decision of my colleagues in the Senate, and that of then-Senator Biden, to stand strong and prevent a lame-duck president from remaking the court for decades to come,” Ross added.

Democrats, meanwhile, laud the nomination:

“Today, President Obama put forward a nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and it’s time for Senate Republicans to do their job. The Republican obstructionists who have vowed to stop any nominee from even being considered are doing a disservice to the American people — and are betraying the democratic values laid out in our Constitution. Americans are tired of the gridlock in Washington, and in the U.S. Senate I’ll always fight to cut through the dysfunction and get things done for our nation,” said U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

As reactions come in, we will add to this post.

A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at

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