I had never heard the name Merrick Garland before all the tumult going on in the American political circus arena.
He is one of the leading judges in the United States with an outstanding reputation. He was born to a Jewish mother and a Protestant father, raised and educated as a Jew. In Harvard Law School he met a fellow student, daughter of Judge Samuel Rosenman, fell in love and was married in a Jewish religious ceremony. He has two daughters and lives a Jewish life-style.
Why is his name so prominent now? Because President Barack Obama has nominated him to be the 9th Justice in the Supreme Court, taking the seat of the recently deceased and beloved Justice Anthony Scalia.
If he were to be confirmed, he would be the 4th Jewish Justice of the nine in the highest court of the land.
The problem is not his qualifications. Far from it. From all reports in the American and foreign press, Judge Garland is very highly regarded and definitely qualified to sit on the bench in the Supreme Court.
The problem is the political war between the Republican party and the lame-duck president who has about 300 more days to occupy the White House’s Oval Office. The Republicans feel that Obama should not make any appointments of national importance. Those should be left for the new incoming president.
Of course, if it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (chass v’chalila), they would be free to appoint a Justice of their choice and it would not necessarily be Judge Garland.
While Obama insists upon his executive right to make the appointment to the empty seat in the Supreme Court, the Republicans are fighting him all the way. They cannot have a grievance against the nominee, Judge Garland, because they have not extended to him the courtesy of a meeting. Their grievance is against Barack Obama whom they truly neither like nor respect.
From the news I have read, the president has the right to nominate Judge Garland, but the Republicans in Congress will not confirm the nomination and the majority of them refuse to meet with the nominee.
If I had the opportunity to express my opinion to the Americans in Congress, I would surely support Judge Garland’s appointment, not because he is a Jew, but because his qualifications are exemplary.
In the meantime, eight Justices are sitting on the bench. A seat for the 9th is still empty. But in America’s history there have been several occasions in past years when only eight Justices sat in the Supreme Court.
Hopefully many more Republicans in the American Congress will have the courtesy (derech eretz) at least to invite Judge Garland for an interview before forming their own opinions.
Candidate John Kasich announced that if he were elected president, he would consider favorably appointing Judge Garland and he has called upon his fellow Republicans to meet with the federal judge in fairness to him.
Four Jewish Justices on the bench out of nine Justices is an example of America’s respect for the individual’s qualifications and integrity. It is something that American Jews can be proud of.
If wishes come true, there may indeed be a 4th Jew.