- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2016

President Obama predicted Saturday that the next Republican president will face political payback from Democrats if Senate Republicans refuse to allow a vote on his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

Denying Judge Garland a vote “would indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair,” Mr. Obama told Americans in his weekly address.

“It would make it increasingly impossible for any president, Republican or Democrat, to carry out their Constitutional function,” the president said. “To go down that path would jeopardize our system of justice, it would hurt our democracy, and betray the vision of our founding.”

But Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, said the Senate GOP will wait for the next president to select a nominee “so the American people can weigh in on this important decision.”

“This is about principle, not the person the president has nominated,” Mr. Tillis said in the Republicans’ weekly address.

Mr. Obama nominated Judge Garland, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on Wednesday to fill the vacancy created by the death on Feb. 13 of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The president said Judge Garland, 63, embodies “a conviction that powerful voices must not be allowed to drown out those of everyday Americans.”

Referring to “corroding” political rhetoric in the Republican presidential primary, Mr. Obama said, “this is precisely the time we should treat the appointment of a Supreme Court justice with the seriousness it deserves.”

“I ask Republicans in the Senate to give Judge Garland the respect he has earned,” Mr. Obama said. “Give him a hearing. Give him an up-or-down vote.”

Mr. Tillis said the Constitution allows senators to “simply choose to withhold consideration of the nomination altogether” so the voters can have a voice.

“The president and Democratic leaders aren’t exactly thrilled with giving the American people a voice,” Mr. Tillis said. “And contrary to their claims, the Senate is doing its job and fulfilling its constitutional obligation by deferring consent in order to let the people’s voice be heard.”

With the court now split 4-4 between liberal and conservative appointees, Mr. Tillis said the next justice “will determine the balance of the court for generations to come.”

“Justice Scalia was widely admired and respected for defending the original intent of the Constitution and its prescribed separation of powers, and he served as a critical check on President Obama’s executive overreaches,” he said.

Mr. Obama says the voters already have made their voices heard by reelecting him to the presidency in 2012, knowing that he would have the authority to nominate another justice.

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