As of this morning, it has been 167 days since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat. This of course far surpasses Louis Brandeis’ wait for a Supreme Court Senate hearing in 1916, but because Judge Garland has spent his summer waiting patiently for a hearing—as opposed to, say, sexting women or urinating on public structures—you may not have seen his name in the news as much as you should have.
The continuing Garland news blockade warrants a publicity stunt worthy of a hot August afternoon, and at Slate we think we’ve got it: Judge Garland deserves a hearing and vote, yes, but barring all that he also deserves a personalized Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. So we are asking readers to come up with a Ben & Jerry’s specialty ice cream suggestion that combines the nothingness of the Senate’s conduct, the abstract incomprehensibility of the judicial confirmation process, and the utterly unworkable given name that is Merrick Garland.
The idea here is that if we can make Garland a household name—or even a freezer-section name—we could maybe still get him a vote in September. And here’s a scoop: This week Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been promising for months that there will be no hearings for the vacant seat until the next president is seated, seems to be softening on that vow and willing to be persuaded on a lame-duck hearing. Meaning that now, more than ever, is the moment to gin up some public attention for the invisible nominee.
I threw this open to my Facebook universe yesterday morning and received some pretty strong initial entries. More than one wag went with variations on the simple “Rocky Road” (including “Blocky Road” and “Rocky Middle of the Road”) and left it at that. There were also a good many snarky suggestions that Ben & Jerry’s could just go with “Plain Vanilla” on this one, or the slightly more descriptive “Vanilla on Ice.”
A shoutout to some of the highbrow suggestions that included: “Nom-Nom-Nom-Nominee” and “Januberry Surprise.” Props to “Turmeric Garland” (ew) and “Bargaining Chip,” “Pralines and ’Preme” and “Cone-firmation Bias.” Other creditable efforts include “Fili-custard” and “Pure Applesauce,” a Scalia tribute. Strong work on “Unfilled Chair-ey” and “Merrick-ocracy,” as well as “Barack’s Quart-Packing Scheme” and “Blockberry Swirl.” I personally liked “Zero Fudge to Give” as well as “No Justice, No Peach,” which was not only a strong contender but also won the unqualified support of Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen who sent in his vote via emailed haiku:
I kind of like
No Justice No Peach
but I’m just that kind of guy.
Thus far, my own money’s on the deliciously subtle suggestion from my friend Lindsay Barnes: “A Merrick Can Dream.” But we want to hear your ideas. How can we push Judge Garland to the forefront of the national discussion of election issues, or at least to the front of the freezer section? Write in your suggestions in the field below; we’ll announce the winners Wednesday. For those of you who may be impatient about waiting a day to hear who won the contest, rest assured you will have been waiting 167 days fewer than Judge Garland.