PBS's Brooks: GOP Should Confirm 'Excellent Choice' Garland for Supreme Court

On the regular "Shields and Brooks" segment on Friday's PBS NewsHour, it was another case of a liberal analyst and a faux-conservative agreeing with each other as allegedly right-leaning New York Times columnist David Brooks gushed over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, calling him "an excellent choice," a "model of judicial restraint," and "a man of both amazing integrity and capacity to be emotionally moved" as he urged Republicans to confirm him since a President Hillary Clinton would likely nominate someone who "from a Republican point-of-view, could be a lot worse."

It did not seem to occur to Brooks that it might make sense to at least wait and see the results of the presidential election and then confirm him during a lame-duck session if Hillary Clinton has clearly become President-elect.



He oddly ended up admitting that Republicans would likely not be hurt politically by blocking confirmation, even though he seemed to be advising them to confirm before the election anyway.

The liberal Mark Shields surprisingly seemed to take a sarcastic jab at other liberals who complain about Judge Garland being a white man, as Shields cracked that they might have wanted someone "biracial." After Shields complained about Republicans setting a precedent of blocking judicial nominations in a President's last year "before the body was cold of Justice Scalia," it was left to PBS host Judy Woodruff to lightly push back from the right that Republicans consider the seat important because Justice Antonin Scalia was a leading conservative, while supposedly right-leaning Brooks merely agreed with Shields more than not.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, March 18, PBS NewsHour:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Merrick Garland, what do you make of the choice? And what does it say about what the President wants?

DAVID BROOKS: Frankly, I think it's an excellent choice. I mean, this guy with an apparently amazing temperament. He is a model of judicial restraint. He seems to be a man of both amazing integrity and capacity to be emotionally moved. And so everything I hear about him is superlative. And if I'm a Republican, frankly, running the Senate, I'm thinking this is the best I'm going to get.

And if Donald Trump is down 15 points in the summer or fall, I'd confirm this guy because Hillary Clinton, if she gets elected, who knows what the Senate will look like? It will be from a Republican point-of-view, could be a lot worse. So I think Republicans should say we'll take this guy because, from their point-of-view, he's a model of restraint.

MARK SHIELDS: I agree and echo what David has said about Judge Garland and, Judy, the knocks on him from the liberal side, A, he's a white male and, you know, you have to have somebody who is, you know, I don't know what, biracial or something else-

WOODRUFF: That he's too much of a centrist.

SHIELDS: Yeah, and he's 63 years old, I mean, which doesn't seem old at all to me. But the irony here is, I think the Republicans have put themselves in a terrible position. I really do. I mean, before the body was cold of Judge Scalia, before his family had been told, Mitch McConnell tried to head off a charge from the conservative insurgents against the establishment that they weren't sufficiently conservative enough, so they've got to earn that.

And they've taken a position that basically comes down to this: Barack Obama is the only President since World War II other than Dwight Eisenhower to twice win 51 percent of the popular vote, and what they want to say is he's got a three-year term for his second term. So by that logic, people should decide the 24 Republican Senators who are up for reelection this year should not vote on anything between now and November until the people have spoken. I mean, I just really think they have taken a terrible political position. And I think it's increasingly unpopular and eventually unsustainable.

WOODRUFF: Well, in their defense, the Republicans, David, are saying, "Well, but this is to replace Antonin Scalia who as standardbearer conservative for, what, 25 years on the Court?"

BROOKS: Yeah, but, I mean, I agree with Mark philosophically. I mean, you're elected for four years, and you get to nominate for four years. Some people, Justice Marshall in the old days, under John Adams I think it was, was nominated in a lame-duck session. And so that's the constitutional historical precedent. So, philosophically, I think Mark's right. Politically, I can't imagine Republicans will pay a price for it. I do not think there are a lot of voters out there thinking, "Oh, you got to give this guy a hearing." I just don't think it's a voting issue. So I do not think Republicans will be compelled to fold on this one.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters