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What the Supreme Court Battle is About

March 21, 2016
Plain English Version
President Barack Obama and Judge Merrick Garland, the president's nominee to the Supreme Court. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and Judge Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The United States Supreme Court is the nation’s highest court. There are nine members. One member recently died so now there are only eight members.

The U.S. Constitution says the president has the responsibility for choosing the justices. The Senate then has the responsibility of voting on his choice. It is pretty clear.

Republicans currently control the Senate. They say the next president, not President Obama, should choose the justice. The next president does not take office until January 20, 2017.

Republicans are saying it does not matter whom President Obama nominates. They will not meet with the candidate, hold hearings or vote on Obama’s selection. Democrats are saying to the Ssenate, “Do your job.”

The politics will be brutal. President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the court. He is currently the chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Observers say he is a moderate. He has an impeccable reputation for integrity.

The Republicans are betting they will win the presidency. They want their candidate to choose the next justice. Many people think Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate. Many think he will lose the race.  The Republicans will have made a bad decision. Many analysts also believe the Democrats will take over the Senate. That would be twice as bad for Republicans.

Mr. Obama said he hoped Republicans would act out of a sense of duty. And also out of basic fairness. “My simple pitch to them is: be fair,” Mr. Obama said.

There will be a pitched battle over the next few months. Groups will spend millions of dollars on the controversy. All sides will weigh in. Americans may not only be voting for a president but for a justice as well.

When asked his opinion Donald Trump said, “delay, delay, delay. Ted Cruz said any Obama choice would destroy religious liberty and the second amendment. That is the “right to bear arms.” John Kasich said he would not send forth a nominee.

Hillary Clinton supports President Obama’s choice. Bernie Sanders said he would not choose Judge Garland. If he wins, he will ask the President to withdraw the judge’s name.

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