This goddamn partisan turmoil just won’t stop, will it?
Unless you have set yourself firmly against all forms of consuming the news, you heard that President Obama nominated Merrick Garland (a native of the north ‘burbs!) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the recently deceased Antonin Scalia. Whenever a Supreme Court justice must be replaced, it’s a pretty big deal, because the nine men and women of the court have virtually unchecked power to interpret the constitutionality of laws (albeit without the power to enforce their decisions, of which Andrew Jackson and Kim Davis have taken advantage). When that justice is as steadfastly conservative as Scalia was, and when the resulting vacancy on the bench leaves an ideological split of roughly four liberals and four conservatives, the new member of the court will tip the balance one way or the other—and, of course, Senate Republicans assume that Obama will nominate a justice who will secure his liberal legacy. That’s why they’ve by and large decided not to even begin the confirmation process for Garland; despite the fact that he’s been praised by Republicans such as Orrin Hatch in the past, the GOP’s opposition to Obama is so extreme that they are rejecting any decision he makes purely on principle. The party claims that by holding off on confirmation hearings, they’re giving the selection to the “people” as decided by the upcoming presidential election. The Democrats, on the other hand, say that the people did choose—Obama, in 2012—and call on the Senate to do their job as delineated in the Constitution and hold a damn hearing.
The political implications of this intransigence are incalculable but likely vast. Obama has nominated a justice moderate enough to paint the GOP into a corner wherein they now appear to be blatantly politicizing the supposedly neutral Supreme Court (LOL “neutral”). By holding out, the GOP might be playing a role in screwing itself out of not only the Oval Office, but also out of Senate control. The majority of Americans, according to numerous national polls, believe the Senate should act on Merrick Garland; ignoring this “will of the people” would paint the Republicans as out-of-touch and likely doom their chances in the general election. To his credit, Illinois’ Mark Kirk, a Republican, has said he will hear out Garland’s case (whether he’s doing so on principle, for political reasons, or both is an answer determined by your own ideology).
What has me most curious about this case, though, is the constitutionality of what the Senate Republicans hope to do.
The process by which Supreme Court justices are appointed is described in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:
“…[the President] shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law…”
See, I’m interested in the fact that there isn’t a strictly delineated time period in which the “advice and consent” of the Senate must be given. If what Orrin Hatch says is true of some of his colleagues as well, the GOP-led Senate might begin the process of vetting Judge Garland after the general election if a Democratic candidate wins. (In that case, Obama could really screw the Republicans over by withdrawing Garland’s nomination and instead putting forth a far more progressive nominee.) Or they could just hold out until the same party controls both the presidency and the Senate (which I think might happen—for the Democrats—if McConnell and company keep it up). But I don’t see anything in the Constitution itself that the confirmation vote must occur within a sitting president’s term of office. Is that a shady loophole? Absolutely. But a loophole it is, and as much of a dick move as I think it is for the GOP to refuse to hear Merrick Garland out because of the man who nominated him for the job, and as much as I think it will cost them in the general election, I think they’re within their rights here. It would be fascinating to see this case go to the Scalia-less Supreme Court.
Anyways, on to better news: what to do this weekend!
THURSDAY, MARCH 17TH
Poetry off the Shelf: Amber Tamblyn with Hannah Gamble @ Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., 7:00 PM
WHAT: Umm, Amber Tamblyn is a poet. Did you know that? She’s reading her poetry.
SO WHAT: I mean, she hasn’t been in anything groundbreaking in a while—she was on Two And A Half Men a couple years ago, but that show has been dying a very slow, painful death since about 2010—but she’s still a veritable B-lister, with credits like 127 Hours, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Ring to her name. Go see what she’s been up to!
NOW WHAT: This is free. Also, it’s Amber Tamblyn.
David Cross: Making America Great Again! @ Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., 7:30 PM
WHAT: David Cross, the stand-up comedian best known for his role as Tobias in Arrested Development and his sketch comedy program Mr. Show, is coming to Park West for his second of two dates in the city (he performed at The Vic on the 16th) on his Making America Great Again! Tour.
SO WHAT: Honestly, I’m shocked this isn’t sold out. David Cross is awesome and you should definitely go do this instead of (or in addition to) celebrating actual St. Patrick’s Day.
NOW WHAT: Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here.
FRIDAY, MARCH 18TH
C2E2 @ McCormick Place South, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 11:00 AM Friday-6:00 PM Sunday
WHAT: Three days of everything you ever wanted to know about comics, nerd culture, geek stuff, superheroes, etc. There will be panels, workshops, speakers, and a whole lot of cosplayers.
SO WHAT: Umm, this is awesome? I’m going to be here all weekend, dressed as Dipper Pines from Gravity Falls, learning as much as I can about things like Chicago’s spookiest urban legends, how to make a badass superhero or supervillain, and details behind Marvel’s upcoming Civil War II. Also, John Cusack, John Ratzenberger, and Adventure Time‘s Jeremy Shada (Finn the Human) and Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum) are spotlight speakers. Algebraic!
NOW WHAT: Tickets are available here; they’re $65 for the whole weekend if you buy ahead of time. You can also get tickets at the door.
Manual Cinema presents “Mementos Mori” @ Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., 7:00 PM
NOW WHAT: There are performances throughout the weekend, and tickets can be purchased on Ticketfly. When the group performed this at the MCA, all four performances sold out, so get on it!
SATURDAY, MARCH 19TH
Chocolate Walking Tour @ Magnificent Mile, 400 N. Michigan Ave., 12:00 PM
WHAT: Wander around the Magnificent Mile while enjoying some of Chicago’s most decadent dessert boutiques and chocolatiers.
SO WHAT: Enjoy tastings and specials at each location, learn more about the history of chocolate, and have the opportunity to burn off the sugar rush during this two-hour walking tour.
NOW WHAT: Tickets are $50 and available online.
2016 Hashbrown Chili Cookoff @ Spudnik Press Cooperative, 1821 W. Hubbard Ave., 6:00 PM
WHAT: Spring is pretty much already here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good bowl of chili.
SO WHAT: Contestants include members of CHIRP radio, Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, Comfort Station, Instituto Grafico de Chicago, and more. All proceeds help the non-profit printmaking studio in which the event takes place.
NOW WHAT: Tickets range from $12 general admission to $200 for groups of five; VIP packs include tastings, beverages, and golden spoons (!).
SUNDAY, MARCH 20TH
Why Iceland Inspires Us To Put Pen To Paper @ Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan Ave., 2:00 PM
WHAT: The final planned event of Taste of Iceland (which is happening all weekend), this is a discussion with Iceland-based author Eliza Reid about why Iceland is so inspirational to her—and why it should inspire all authors and readers
SO WHAT: From the pictures I’ve seen of Iceland, Reid probably has a point. Legend has it that Erik the Red only gave Greenland its name out of envy that it wasn’t as awesome as Iceland.
NOW WHAT: This is free, so you should just go and get there early.