At Public Meeting, Former Colleagues & Legal Experts Describe Chief Judge Garland as a Committed Jurist, Devoted Public Servant

Senate Democrats, Public Gather To Discuss SCOTUS Nomination While Republicans Refuse To Do Their Job

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, May 18, 2016) – At a public meeting Wednesday led by Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over judicial nominations including nominations to the Supreme Court, former colleagues of Chief Judge Merrick Garland described the Supreme Court nominee as a dedicated jurist whose strong character and exemplary career in public service deserved broad bipartisan support.

Donna Bucella, who worked with Garland as a prosecutor during the Oklahoma City bombing case, called Garland “a consensus builder.”

“While many in law enforcement had their own opinions as to how the investigation should be conducted, Merrick would welcome the many opinions, listen, and then make a decision regarding the investigation.  His sense of collegiality and fairness earned the respect of even those who may not have agreed with his decisions.  He was objective.  I can attest to this because I was there with him the entire time,” Bucella said.

Former Judge Timothy K. Lewis, who was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President George H.W. Bush and served for seven years, said Garland is a Supreme Court nominee “straight out of central casting.”

“I know Judge Garland. I am familiar with his career and his work on the bench.  I was already aware of his bipartisan support among Senators I respect and admire; Senators whose conscientious appeal might stem the tide and help restore the orderly administration of an historic process; Senators who, at an earlier time, had privately shared with me their appreciation for bipartisanship in a difficult Supreme Court nomination,” Lewis said.

Lewis also testified that his confirmation in October 1992 by a Democratically-controlled Senate made him “living proof” that a Senate controlled by one party can confirm an opposing party’s nominee to an appellate court in a presidential election year.

Rodney Slater, former Secretary of Transportation who joined with civil rights leaders in support of Garland’s nomination, said “Judge Garland shares with me a deep respect for our Constitution.”

“I have known Chief Judge Garland as a friend, a fierce and exacting prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice and as an honorable, impartial and fair adjudicator,” Slater said.  “In addition to his devotion as a husband, father, son, brother and friend, distinguished jurist… he has found time to regularly and passionately mentor inner city youth in the schools of our nation’s capital. . . I am honored to lift the name of one whom I admire immensely, an exemplar of the Bench and Bar.”

Justin Driver, who clerked for Garland on the D.C. Circuit, described his former boss as a careful jurist and “a judge’s judge,” who “honored existing precedents and avoided grand proclamations that redefined large bodies of law.”

“Each case that arrived on Judge Garland’s desk received the same meticulous care, regardless of whether the decision appeared destined to be forgotten by everyone but the parties or to be splashed across front-page headlines,” Driver said.

Opening the public meeting, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said: “Just because Republicans refuse to do their job on Judge Garland’s nomination does not mean that we Democrats will stop doing ours.  We take our constitutional duty to evaluate Supreme Court nominees seriously.”

Wednesday’s public meeting comes 63 days after Garland was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Just this week, the Supreme Court was unable to reach agreement on two important cases affecting millions of Americans, in addition to deadlocking on other cases at least three other times. 

In an editorial Tuesday, the New York Times wrote “Every day that passes without a ninth justice undermines the Supreme Court’s ability to function, and leaves millions of Americans waiting for justice or clarity as major legal questions are unresolved.”

The public meeting was broadcast via C-SPAN and copies of the speakers’ prepared statements are available online.

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