President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland earlier this week, despite Senate Republicans saying that they will not consider any Supreme Court nominees before the next president is in office. In the wake of the announcement, Richter Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff joined WHYY's RadioTimes to discuss the selection and its implications, both immediate and on the 2016 presidential campaign.
Of Judge Garland, Nackenoff says he reminds her of Sandra Day O'Connor since he is the type of judge who can take one case at a time and is not ideological. Further, his appointment would "shift the gravity of the court a little more to the center — perhaps he would become a swing voter."
She also is not surprised by the Senate's refusal to hold hearings on the nomination given how polarized the nation has become. She believes if the next president is a Democrat, it is quite possible that the Senate will continue to obstruct nominees.
Nackenoff, who joined Swarthmore's faculty in 1992, is the author of The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse (Oxford, 1994) and is co-editor and contributor to Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Her chief current research project is a manuscript on the contested meaning of citizenship in the United States from 1875-1925. In addition to constitutional law, Nackenoff also teaches American politics, environmental politics, and political theory.