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So, President Obama can repeatedly arrogate the authority to write and rewrite legislation, then insist that the legislature must convene hearings on his Supreme Court nominee in an election year. David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy asserts that Obama is in no position to argue the virtue of Senate hearings on his nominee. That Obama condemns the Senate GOP leadership for refusing to act, which is consistent with the so-called “Biden rule“, after his own misadventures in executive ordering is particularly hypocritical. As Glenn Reynolds says in his link to the Bernstein piece:

When they hold the whip hand, norms and traditions are stuffy and outdated. When they don’t, it’s all ‘have you no decency, sir?’

Bernstein’s post has the lengthy but descriptive title “Re: Merrick Garland, it’s a bit late for the Obama administration and its supporters to appeal to constitutional norms requiring Senate consideration“. He first discusses an earlier post by Jonathan Adler noting that the text of the Constitution includes no requirement on the Senate to act on a judicial nominee with whom they disapprove. Instead, the customary hearings and votes on all nominees are a constitutional norm, a procedure that evolved over time in acting on the text of the Constitution:

… as Adler has repeatedly documented, norms surrounding presidential appointments, especially judicial appointments, have increasingly been stressed and undermined in recent years by both parties. It’s not clear, if I were a Republican senator, why I’d use this particular opportunity to call for a cease-fire, especially one that the other side may not honor in the future.

Obama’s disrespect for the constitution and constitutional norms is well known, if not always acknowledged. Bernstein cites a number of cases in which the President has acted without legislative authority (though Bernstein and I might approve of certain policy positions underlying those actions, not the actions themselves):

More generally, President Obama has repeatedly promised to try to circumvent Congress using any arguably legal means available, on the rather extra-constitutional grounds, contrary to the norms attendant to the separation of powers, that ‘we can’t wait’ for Congress to pass legislation that the president favors.”

As I’ve long maintained, President Obama’s constitutional “scholarship” is dubious. In any case, he has no particular respect for the document. Perhaps I should not sell short his understanding of constitutional principles, since he knows all to well how to subvert them. But his real talents are political. It’s been suggested that Obama’s selection of a relatively “moderate” nominee is highly Machiavelian, intended to torture the GOP, as it were. Judge Garland might well be the best choice the GOP will have, depending on the outcome of the November elections. That might not be of much consolation. To quote Reynolds again:

I think [Garland’s] a ‘moderate’ in the sense that he approves of government invasions that come from the left and the right.