Whenever I hear the words "centrist" or "moderate," especially when they come from The New York Times and The Washington Post, the words "liberal" and "cover-up" immediately come to mind.
Since President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, a confirmed conservative, the words "centrist" and "moderate" have been repeated ad nauseam. They were repeated so often, in fact, that they resembled the sound of a skipping needle across a vinyl LP with dust in its grooves.
Even the reliably liberal New York Times, while repeating the centrist and moderate line, acknowledged that Garland's addition to the court "would make the justice at the center of the court more liberal than at any point in nearly 50 years."
This is why Republicans are within their constitutional rights to refuse to grant Garland a hearing or a vote, especially since, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, "two-out-of-three likely U.S. voters (67 percent) are angry at the current policies of the federal government." Senate Republicans rightly believe a new president should make the critical next appointment to the court.
At the announcement ceremony in the Rose Garden, one could see a tableau of liberalism on display. Does anyone believe those senators, who included uber-leftists Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein, would vote to confirm someone who might not reflect their liberal worldview, including the belief that the Constitution is a "living document" to be tampered with according to the whims of the age? Would a liberal Democrat vote to confirm anyone who might impose restrictions on abortion or rollback same-sex marriage?
A Wall Street Journal editorial unmasked the liberal cover-up over Garland, even while other editorialists, columnists and broadcast news anchors extolled his supposed virtues: "Judge Garland's 19-year tenure on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates a reliable vote for progressive causes, with the arguable exception of criminal law. Two issues in particular make the point: the Second Amendment and deference to the growing power of the administrative state."
The president probably knows that Garland's nomination isn't going anywhere and that like so many other things in this administration Garland will be used for political ends in the election. It is amusing to hear liberals claim Republicans are "obstructionists" after all the obstructing Democrats have done. Democratic roadblocks extend back to Robert Bork's confirmation hearings and include Sen. Barack Obama's opposition to Justice Samuel Alito for reasons even he admitted were solely political.
I suspect, not since John F. Kennedy named Byron R. White to the Supreme Court has there been a justice who disappointed Democrats. White was one of two justices who dissented in the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case. The Republican record has been far more checkered, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower's naming of Earl Warren, a nomination he came to regret, calling it "the biggest d--n fool mistake" he ever made.
As William Harper points out in his highly readable and timely book, "Second Thoughts: Presidential Regrets with their Supreme Court Nominations," Republicans have fared far less well when picking jurists to the highest court. In addition to Earl Warren, there were William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, Warren Burger, Sandra Day O'Connor, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy -- all named by Republican presidents, each one disappointing conservatives on numerous cases.
Perhaps Republicans will cave on the president's nomination of Garland because they have done so before. Backbone is not a word normally associated with often-squishy Republicans, but so far they appear to be standing as one. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems unconcerned that Republicans might lose their majority should voters punish them for refusing to confirm Garland. That's something Democrats and their big media allies have alluded to during the campaign.
Meanwhile, only believe Merrick Garland is not a liberal, if you believe President Obama and most Senate Democrats are moderates.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.