Breaking News Emails
A day after mocking Donald Trump in a graduation speech, President Obama took another shot at the Republican presidential nominee, suggesting that his candidacy bolsters the argument for Republicans taking up Obama's choice for the Supreme Court.
Obama said in a live interview with news website BuzzFeed Monday that Republicans' vow to block Merrick Garland is now playing against them.
"And now we’re looking at the situation where having made that promise, Republicans are looking at a Republican nominee who many of them say isn't qualified to be president, much less appoint somebody," Obama said. "And it seems to me that they’d be better off going ahead and giving a hearing and a vote to somebody that they themselves in the past have said is well qualified."
Obama said that the country was better off with qualified nominees from both parties. "But, precisely because this election year has been so crazy, precisely because you have a number of Republicans who have said that they’re concerned about their nominee, it shows you why you don’t want to politicize a Supreme Court appointment.”
Obama's remarks followed Sunday's commencement speech at Rutgers, when he blasted a number of Trump's campaign pledges — building a wall to keep undocumented Mexican immigrants and temporarily blocking Muslims from entering the country, blocking trade deals. Without mentioning the real-estate mogul and reality TV star's name, Obama said that the presidency deserved someone with experience.
"In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue," Obama told the graduates. "It's not cool to not know that you're talking about. That's not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That's not challenging political correctness."
Obama's interview with Buzzfeed came two months after he nominated Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13.
The president said he picked Garland because he had crossover appeal, and had won many Republican votes in his 1997 confirmation to the Court of Appeals.
But Republicans argued that the next president should make the appointment, and said they wouldn't even hold hearings for him.
Since then, the court has operated with eight justices, with no tiebreaker. That has prevented it from making definitive rulings in some cases. Last week, the court tied 4-4 on the pending execution of an Arkansas murderer, upholding a lower court's vote to delay his death.
The president said he believed that Republicans in the Senate would soften as more voters complained and Republican senators recognized "That the position they're taking is not tenable."