I don’t understand this even as a stunt. Which rank-and-file liberals, knowing there’s no chance of it happening, are going to read this story and say, “Thank you for trying, Senator Schumer! You’re a true warrior for our cause!”? He might as well have asked Trump to appoint Obama or Hillary Clinton to the seat. Imagine the angst on the right and the damage to Trump’s credibility among Republicans if he nominated someone who’s “only” as conservative as John Roberts. Naming Garland to the seat would have conservatives more eager to impeach him than a finding of collusion by Bob Mueller would.
Maybe Schumer was trolling?
Because American politics now resides in the Twilight Zone, though, I suppose there’s technically some minute chance that this would happen and that Garland would be confirmed. And then the patented shocking Serling twist: Garland provides the fifth vote to overturn Roe. Picture Schumer crying like Burgess Meredith in the rubble, abortion clinics shuttering all around him. “Submitted for your approval: One Charles Schumer, a man who fought to revive an aborted nomination — and got more than he bargained for. A lesson in being careful what you wish for from … the Twilight Zone.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately urged President Trump in a phone call earlier this week to nominate federal Judge Merrick B. Garland, then President Barack Obama’s third nominee to the Supreme Court who was summarily shunned by Senate Republicans in 2016, to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Trump had called Schumer on Tuesday afternoon for a Supreme Court-centered conversation that lasted less than five minutes, according to a person familiar with the call. Schumer, the person said, pressed the president to name Garland to succeed Kennedy, arguing doing so would help unite the country.
It would certainly unite Democrats! Why, I can see Trump’s job approval among liberals soaring one, maybe even two points among liberals after a Garland nomination. There’s a little truth to this too:
Trump appointing Merrick Garland would be worth it just to see his supporters twist themselves into enthusiastically justifying it.
— Christian Vanderbrouk (@UrbanAchievr) July 5, 2018
True, a few would — this is why cults of personality exist — but only the hardest of hardcore MAGA-heads would answer the call in this case. Judge Jeanine, sure, Hannity, sure, but literally nothing is as capable of tanking his numbers among Republicans broadly as a bad Supreme Court pick would be. This was the core selling point of Trump 2016 to skeptical righties, after all: Hold your nose, vote Trump, and save the Court for another generation. He’s going to make your SCOTUS dreams come true. If he were to break that promise it’d be the, er, supreme betrayal.
Even if he wanted to, I don’t know that McConnell would let him do it. Cocaine Mitch goes for the jugular on court battles, as Garland himself might tell you. If Trump put forth a nominee who’d obviously disappoint conservatives on the bench, there’s a nonzero chance that McConnell would refuse to bring it to the floor. It’d be a rare fight with Trump in which the base would hesitate to take POTUS’s side. And conservatives would know that they have the muscle to get the White House to back down if they choose to flex it since they’ve done it once before not very long ago, with Harriet Miers.
But all of this is silliness. Trump has showed good sense in following the lead of Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society on major judicial nominations. It goes without saying that not only will he not nominate someone as far left as Garland on the spectrum, he won’t nominate someone as far left as Anthony Kennedy or Roberts. Which, again, is why I don’t understand what Schumer’s game was in bringing this up. Presumably it was a “can’t hurt to try” thing, in which he’d seek to plant an idea in Trump’s head about the praise he’d receive from the left if he nominated someone more centrist and then hope it took root, with Trump suddenly insisting to aides in private conversation that he wanted a “unifying” nominee. Can’t hurt to try! With Trump all things are possible.
Exit question: Wasn’t this guy saying just a few days ago that there shouldn’t be a nominee at all until after the midterms?