Friday, March 18, 2016

Cleaver: The Senate must give Judge Garland a hearing

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

This week, President Obama completed his responsibility that Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution outlined, to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court. On Wednesday morning he announced that he is nominating D.C. Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland to serve as the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to take the seat of the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

With the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama has selected a widely-admired and deeply-experienced jurist with a sterling judicial record. I urge the Senate to give a fair hearing and timely vote to Chief Judge Garland – a judge who has demonstrated that he has the wisdom, legal expertise, and dedication to the Constitution to be an exceptional Supreme Court Justice.

Having served on the D.C. Court of Appeals since 1997 – and as Chief Judge for over three years – Judge Garland boasts more experience as a federal judge than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. Throughout his career, he has won bipartisan praise as a consensus builder – earning a robust, bipartisan 76-23 confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court.

The Senate has ample time to give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote:

There are over 300 days until the next President takes office.

Since the 1980s, every person appointed to the Court has been given a prompt hearing and vote within 100 days.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans believe “the Senate should hold hearings and vote on President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee”.

Moreover, there is clear precedent for confirming a nominee in an election year, even when the Senate is not controlled by the President’s party. Six Justices have been confirmed in presidential election years, including three Republican nominees. Indeed, the most recent, Justice Kennedy in 1988, was nominated by a Republican President and confirmed by Democrats. Another 11 have been confirmed in non-Presidential election years.

A Supreme Court Justice nomination is not only the President’s duty, but also his responsibility to the American people to fully staff the highest court of the nation. It is my hope that Senate Republicans set aside partisan divisions and consider the nomination before them. There is important work before the Supreme Court, and now the Senate must fulfill its constitutional responsibility to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.

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