WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today issued the following statement on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.
“President Obama is doing his job and nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Now it’s time for Senators to do our jobs,” said Brown. “Senate Republicans have said they will refuse to even meet with this President’s nominee, much less hold a hearing and an up-or-down vote. But now we have an unquestionably qualified nominee who has earned support from both Republicans and Democrats in the past, so I expect my colleagues to put politics aside, do the job we were elected to do and give Judge Garland full and fair consideration. Anything less undermines our democracy.”
Ohioans have written op-eds and newspapers have penned editorials encouraging Republicans to consider Obama’s nominee:
The president should move forward with a nominee. The smart and responsible step would be to select someone already meeting the highest standards on the bench, and already having cleared the Senate confirmation process with an overwhelming vote on the floor. That would reflect how Washington should work, and how it once did before hyper-polarization grabbed. The president has almost 340 days left in office. The Constitution doesn’t say that at some point it is too late to nominate. A sterling choice could join the court for part of the current term.
Even as we write today, unsettled legal questions regarding search and seizure, digital privacy and federal sentencing are either pending before the Supreme Court or headed there. It is unfair and unsafe to expect good federal agents, police and prosecutors to spend more than a year guessing whether their actions will hold up in court. And it is just as unfair to expect citizens whose rights and liberties are at stake to wait for answers while their homes, emails, cell phones, records and activities are investigated.
The failure to fill Scalia’s vacancy upsets that balance, adversely impacts both government and business, and does a severe disservice to the American citizenry. The president has a constitutional duty to nominate and the Senate has a constitutional duty to give or withhold their advice and consent. In short, confirmation hearings should be held because our Constitution requires no less. And, confirmation hearings should be held so our elected officials can govern and so business can operate with greater certainty.
It would be irresponsible and unprecedented to let a vacancy on the court extend into 2017. If Congress fails to act, the Supreme Court will go two terms – well over a year – with a vacancy. The court will hear significant cases in the coming months and issue rulings that will impact our everyday lives.
As a judge for 30 years, I learned that it is important for the law to be settled. Uncertainty is bad for businesses, individuals and commerce. Two court terms of possible 4-4 votes would be a nightmare.
It is regrettable that Republican presidential candidates and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said the court vacancy shouldn’t be filled until the country has elected a new president. McConnell said the Senate would not confirm a replacement this year. This is an affront to the president’s constitutional authority to nominate a justice. And it is an abdication of the Senate’s duty to “advise and consent” in confirming a nominee; it should consider an individual’s merits.
It’s understandable that Republican senators would prefer not to face the prospect of losing the conservative majority on the Supreme Court that Justice Scalia did so much to propel. But imposing that ideological and partisan preference by refusing to do the jobs they were elected to do would be to the detriment of the country and the administration of justice.
Justice Antonin Scalia hadn’t been dead a day before Republicans started condemning any possible nominee who might be selected by the President. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ramped up the discord last week when he said leaders wouldn’t even meet with that person, whoever he or she might be. Credentials? Experience? Judicial temperament? All irrelevant to Mr. McConnell and his colleagues.
Republicans have made no secret of the fact that they consider him a lame duck and, therefore, should disabuse himself of the notion that any initiatives of substance will be considered this year. But, in the matter of naming a possible successor to Justice Scalia, the president holds all the cards and should not throw in his hand. That said, we do urge Obama to name someone who is already serving on the federal bench and, thus, has been through the Senate confirmation process. There is an impressive list of such candidates, including several who received unanimous Senate support.