Obama Reminds the Nation of His Presidential Power Over the Supreme Court (Video)
As if the current political goings-on in the United States needed any more hullabaloo, the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has resulted in a showdown between President Obama and Congress. As the presidential campaign heats up with presumptive nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump entering what promises to be one of the most memorable elections in history, the current president is dealing with a fight of his own. Within hours of Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to block any of Obama’s nominees to replace the empty seat, setting off a firestorm in which party politics once again get in the way of what should be a clear and forthright process. Having nominated chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and centrist democrat Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, President Obama is now on a mission to convince the nation and his Republican opponents of Garland’s qualifications, which he did in an in-depth conversation with NPR’s Nina Totenberg.
After calling the current presidential campaign season a “circus,” President Obama goes into some history in Garland’s career, and why he feels he makes the best candidate. However, it’s nearly halfway during the interview when he begins to address some of the most biting critique of Garland’s nomination, which involves the issues of race and sex (namely that he’s not only a centrist, but also a White male). In an era when progressive steps towards racial and gender equality are being taken often in American politics – albeit slowly – there did seem to be a sense that Obama’s nominee would likely be a minority or a woman, which Totenberg references when asking the president to remark on the topic. “Take a look at the appointments I’ve made since I’ve been President of the United States,” he responds. “I’ve appointed as many African Americans to the circuit court as any president ever. More African-American women on the federal courts than any other president. More Hispanics. More Asian Americans. More LGBT judges than any president in history. We now actually have a majority of women and/or minorities on the circuit courts, something that’s never happened before.” He then discusses the Supreme Court specifically, reminding us that he’s “appointed two women, both Hispanic.”
In closing, President Obama used some strong rhetoric to address what he calls “one of the most puzzling arguments” that he’s heard from leading Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He says there seems to be “this notion that the American people should decide. We should let the American people decide as part of this election who gets to fill this seat. Well in fact, the American people did decide back in 2012 when they elected me President of the United States with sufficient electoral votes. And they also decided that the Republicans would be in the majority. They didn’t say ‘you’re going to be in charge for three years and then the last year, you all take a break.'”