Federal Courts and Nominations

Merrick Garland: GOP blocking nomination would be slap at Constitution

Today I had the privilege of being in the White House Rose Garden to witness President Obama nominating Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a highly respected jurist who has served with unimpeachable integrity on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for nearly two decades.

Before joining the D.C. Circuit, he had an exemplary career in private practice and public service, with sterling credentials. He is respected and admired by colleagues and friends of all political stripes. Indeed, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch helped Garland win confirmation to the D.C. Circuit in 1997, and said in 2010 “I know Merrick Garland very well. He would be very well supported by all sides (as a Supreme Court nominee) and the president knows that.”

Judge Garland, and the American people, deserve a process that is fair and puts public interest above partisan politics. The Senate should swiftly move to hold hearings and an up or down vote on Judge Garland’s nomination.

The fact that Senate Republicans, under the leadership of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, have come out to claim a total shutdown of the long-established and usual practice of providing a hearing and a vote, particularly to such a nominee, is outrageous. It’s also a slap in the face to the Constitution. The framers did not contemplate a complete and shameful refusal by senators to even participate in the process.

Nowhere in the text or history of our Constitution is the Senate permitted to drop an iron curtain across Pennsylvania Avenue and refuse even to evaluate a president’s nominee. President Obama has done his job, it’s time for Senators to do theirs.

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