The high-stakes poker game being played over the nomination of a replacement for deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took an important, if predictable, turn Thursday when one of the leading Democratic candidates for president weighed in on the nomination of DC Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland.
During a wide-ranging interview on Thursday night’s The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow asked Senator Bernie Sanders “If you get the Democratic nomination and you are elected president in November, would you ask President Obama to withdraw that nomination in a lame duck so you could name your own nominee?”
Sanders was unequivocal in his response:
Yes, I would. I think I’m 100% prepared to support Judge Garland. I think he’s clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably on the Supreme Court. But between you and me, I think there are some more progressive judges out there. 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. I am very worried about the future of American democracy and about the ability of billionaires to buy elections. That is my litmus test, and that’s what I would insist on.
While not surprising, Sanders’ declaration and promise to nominate a more progressive justice are clear reminders to Republican voters just what sort of risk they are taking by blocking Judge Garland, a moderate bird in the hand. It’s likely that Hillary Clinton will be asked the same thing, and respond similarly, although she has a more extensive list of litmus tests. If Republicans think they can sit on Garland until Election Day to see which way the wind is blowing, they’ve got another thing coming.
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