On the Six-Month Anniversary of Garland’s Nomination, No Hearing in Sight

supremecourtsigniStock_000016612106_LargeLast week marked the six month anniversary of President Obama nominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has lacked a ninth Justice for seven months, since Justice Scalia’s death, but to date, Republican leaders in the Senate Judiciary Committee have refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination. This is longer than any other Supreme Court nominee has had to wait for a confirmation hearing. Some of the Republican leadership even refuses to meet with him.
Judge Garland graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, then Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court. He worked primarily as a federal prosecutor prior to his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he has sat for nearly twenty years. Judge Garland’s judicial record has been praised by multiple Republican Senators, including some who previously suggested him for the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will begin its October 2016 Term on Tuesday, October 4th. If Republican Senators continue to refuse to do their job, one seat will still remain empty. Many scholars, including Erwin Chemerinsky, Robin Bradley Kar and Jason Mazzone, and Frederick Lawrence have all agreed that this obstructionism is unprecedented. The American Bar Association has also urged the Senate to take action. Having a shorthanded Supreme Court has a negative impact on the administration of justice.
Although some Republican Senators have said that Judge Garland should get a hearing during the Senate’s lame duck session after the elections, others want to wait until the next president takes office to fill the seat. If Senate Majority leader McConnell gets his way, considering that a nominating and confirmation process will have to take place after January 20th, the seat vacated by Justice Scalia will have remained open for at least one year. The Senate is not fulfilling their constitutional duty, which will hamper the Supreme Court for the coming term and will create, rather than answer, more legal questions. The Senate should stop obstructing Judge Garland’s nomination and #DoYourJob.