President Barack Obama has taken to using his weekly addresses to the nation as an opportunity to harangue Republicans and incite political division among voters. He didn’t disappoint this week as he chose to whine about the fact that his most recent Supreme Court nominee hadn’t yet been confirmed by Congress. The President chose to ignore the fact that his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the bench was almost unprecedented (the “Biden Rule” argues that Congress should not confirm Supreme Court Justices in a president’s last year of office). Instead he chose to demagogue Republicans, blaming them for our political gridlock, even though the GOP is simply observing a popular Democrat rule.
I simply cannot wait until the Complainer-in-Chief is no longer President.
It’s now been 45 days since I nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity, and unimpeachable qualifications. Judge Garland is someone who Senate Republicans are on record saying is “a man of accomplishment and keen intellect;” a man who’s “honest and capable;” a man whose “reputation is beyond reproach.” Those are all quotes from Republicans in the Senate.
But so far, most Senate Republicans have refused to even meet with Judge Garland. Which means they’ve also refused to do their job and hold a hearing on his nomination, or an up-or-down vote. But they’ve still found time to head home for recess over the next week.
This is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility. Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. For over 40 years, there’s been an average of 67 days between a nomination and a hearing. This time should be no different. This is not about partisan politics – it’s about upholding the institutions that make our democracy work.
There’s a reason Judge Garland has earned the respect of people from both political parties. As a young lawyer, he left a lucrative private firm to work in public service. He went to oversee the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing. For the last 19 years, Judge Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit Court – often called “the Second Highest Court in the Land” – and for the past three years, he’s served as that court’s Chief Judge. In fact, Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. With a brilliant mind, a kind spirit, and a good heart, he has dedicated his life to protecting our rights, and ensuring that the voices of everyday Americans are heard.
So there is absolutely no reason for Republican Senators to deny him the basic courtesy of a hearing and a vote – the same courtesy that has been extended to others. This refusal to treat a Supreme Court nomination with the seriousness it deserves is what makes people so cynical about Washington. That’s why poll after poll shows a majority of Americans think Senate Republicans should do their job; give Judge Garland a hearing; and give Judge Garland a vote.
For all of our political differences, Americans understand that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. And in the middle of a volatile political season, it is more important than ever that we fulfill our duties – in good faith – as public servants. The Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics. I’ve done my job – I nominated someone as qualified as Merrick Garland. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their job. Give Judge Garland a hearing. Give Judge Garland an up-or-down vote. Treat him – and our democracy – with the respect they deserve.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com