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Experts skewer Tillis, NRA excuses for blocking Merrick Garland

Tillis [1]

Sen. Thom Tillis

With Governor McCrory’s discrimination bill (and his laugh-out-loud excuses) dominating the news in North Carolina, it’s easy to lose sight that there’s another major debate going on right now (this one at the national level) in which conservatives are having a lot of trouble explaining themselves. I refer, of course, to the ongoing blockade of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Fortunately, a couple of new and powerful articles are there to remind us of just how absurd the blockade has become.

#1 is Gene Nichol’s excellent piece in Sunday’s McClatchy papers (“Through the looking glass with Thom Tillis” [2]) in which Nichol provides a scathing, point-by-point take-down of North Carolina’s junior senator and his recent speech on the matter. Here’s the conclusion:

“I must admit I don’t know whether the senator read this speech before he delivered it. I guess we can hope he didn’t. I’d be slow to conclude he’s not a smart fellow. Bless his heart. But I’m inclined to think that, like Gov. Pat McCrory, he has become so accustomed to mushing through the talking points – no matter how distant they are from reality – that his words don’t register, even on the home front. One need neither understand nor believe what one utters. After all, it’s only politics.

I wouldn’t quickly compare Thom Tillis to the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary. But the cynical repetition of demonstrably, and even hideously false, pufferies – which has now become habitual for Tillis – is no marked improvement over Trumpism. Deploying venom and dispensing bile are not the only ways to demean American political discourse – or to embarrass the people of North Carolina.”

#2 is a new report by Ian Millhiser at Think Progress — “The NRA’s case against Merrick Garland just got super awkward.” [3] In it, Millhiser points out that even failed George W. Bush Court of Appeals nominee and darling of the far right, Miguel Estrada rejects the NRA’s attacks on Garland:

“‘The NRA claims that Garland’s decision to [review a decision striking down the District of Columbia’s tough gun control law] helps mark the Supreme Court nominee as someone who ‘does not support the Second Amendment [4].’ That’s pure applesauce [5], according to Estrada:

Estrada explains that ‘the rules say that the full court may wish to rehear the case itself when the case raises a question, and I quote, of “exceptional importance.”‘

The gun rights case certainly was of exceptional importance, he said, since no court of appeals had ever before ruled that there was an individual right to own a gun. Ultimately, Estrada notes, the Supreme Court, too, thought the case was of exceptional importance, since it agreed to review the lower court decision and, in a landmark opinion, sustained it.

In a previous interview with CBS’ Face The Nation, Estrada also described Garland as “astronomically qualified” and said that he ‘should be confirmed [6].’”

In other words, try as they might to manufacture excuses to oppose Garland, it is increasingly clear that the real and only reason for the conservatives’ blockade is that they can do it. What’s more, as with the discrimination law, it feels more and more as if the far right is really just delaying the inevitable.