cartoon of the week

The Battle for the Supreme Court

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CREDIT: Jeff Darcy/

On January 31, President Trump nominated a conservative federal judge, Neil Gorsuch, 49, to fill the vacant seat on the nine-member Supreme Court. The seat has been empty since the death, last February, of Justice Antonin Scalia, who led the Court’s conservative wing. President Obama tried to fill the seat last March by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, who is more liberal than Scalia. But in an unprecedented move, Republican leaders refused to consider any Obama nominee for the Court during the election year. Under current rules, Gorsuch needs at least 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and allow his confirmation to move ahead. But Democrats, bitter over the tactics used to block Garland, consider the seat to be “stolen” and have promised a showdown.


  1. What does the chair in the cartoon represent? How can you tell?
  2. Why is the chair covered in yellow crime-scene tape? Why does it display Merrick Garland’s name? 
  3. What point is the cartoonist making about the vacant seat on the Supreme Court? Explain. 
  4. Supreme Court justices serve for life, and they often make decisions about important issues that affect the country for years to come. Why do you think Republicans and Democrats have been fighting so bitterly about who will occupy the vacant seat on the Supreme Court? 
  5. Gorsuch has an impressive résumé and is widely respected in legal circles. Do you think Senate Democrats should vote to confirm him, or should they put up a fight considering that Republicans blocked Garland’s nomination? Explain.

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