Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont says that if elected president, he’d ask President Obama to withdraw his Supreme Court pick so that Mr. Sanders could select his own nominee to fill the current vacancy, while also saying he would do everything he can in the meantime to try to make sure Judge Merrick Garland is confirmed.
“Yes, I would,” Mr. Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Thursday when asked if he would ask Mr. Obama to withdraw the nomination in a lame-duck session so Mr. Sanders could name his own nominee.
“And I think I’m 100 percent prepared to support Judge Garland. I think he’s clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably on the Supreme Court,” Mr. Sanders said.
“But between you and me, I think there are some more progressive judges out there,” he said. “I have said over and over again that I do have a litmus test for a Supreme Court justice and that litmus test is that justice must be loud and clear in telling us that he or she will vote to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.”
Mr. Sanders said Judge Garland is “probably not the most progressive pick that he could have made,” but that he would “strongly support” the pick.
“The idea that the president should not be able to make a nomination is totally absurd,” he said. “Republican obstructionism just tells us what’s been going on for the last seven years. I will do everything I can to see that there [are] hearings, that a vote takes place, and that Garland becomes seated on the Supreme Court.”
Republicans, though, have cited election-year precedent in saying Judge Garland should not get hearings or a vote and that the next president should make the pick.
But if Mr. Sanders or Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton gets elected, there is the risk that either one would move to select a more liberal nominee, as Mr. Sanders indicated he would like to do.