The leadership of the U.S. Senate has announced that it will not be holding hearings or votes on a nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the death of Antonin Scalia, and it has the votes to make this stick. All of which makes it a little odd that some publications have been filling acres of news space with biographies of long-shot hopefuls destined not to be picked for a vacancy that is itself likely not to be filled, at least not anytime soon. (Of course, it does advance the White House’s political strategy to maximize press coverage in this way.) Jonathan Adler points out, as have others, that the Senate’s advise-and-consent role does not generate any constitutional duty to consider a nominee, however one weighs the prudential and political considerations for doing so. And Adler also points out that the Senate majority’s “No Hearings, No Votes” position makes it even more inappropriate than usual for some conservatives to start launching smear campaigns against possible liberal names, as by “tarring potential nominees because they once represented unsavory clients” — aside from the fact that (as both conservatives and defenders of the law should know) such smear campaigns are not good for the soul.
More/update: President Obama has now nominated D.C. Circuit chief judge Merrick Garland. Commentary by my colleague Ilya Shapiro (“Chief Judge Garland is assuredly a liberal vote on the most controversial, culture-war issues, but he’s just as surely the most moderate Democratic-leaning jurist under consideration on cases that fly under the radar.”); Stuart Taylor (“I predict that he will be confirmed — after the election, assuming Hillary wins, and after the lame-duck R’s have about 3 seconds to consider their options.”), Jonathan Adler (also: “His record on the D.C. Circuit is one of deference to the government across a wide range of issues,”), Trevor Burrus, and Jim Copland.