Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court Of The United States

[WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 16, 2016) – President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he will nominate Chief Judge Merrick Garland to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Chief Judge Garland has served for nearly 19 years as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often referred to as the second highest court in the land, second only to the Supreme Court.  The Senate confirmed him to that position in 1997 by a bipartisan 76-23 vote.  Prior to his appointment to the D.C. Circuit, Chief Judge Garland served in various positions in the United States Department of Justice, under Republican and Democratic presidents, including Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and Special Assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti.  He also was a litigator in private practice at the law firm Arnold & Porter, LLP.  Chief Judge Garland graduated first in his class from Harvard College and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He then clerked for Judge Henry Friendly on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court of the United States.]

“I congratulate Chief Judge Garland, whose qualifications are impeccable, on his nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is widely admired throughout the legal profession and is one of the most accomplished judges on the federal bench.  The President has chosen carefully, and well.

“Chief Judge Garland is undeniably fair-minded and independent, and it is no wonder that he has received praise from across the political spectrum.  He should be confirmed without controversy.  His extensive service on the bench, as well as his experience leading and supervising the teams prosecuting two of the most notorious domestic terrorism cases in history – the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber case – make Chief Judge Garland immensely and undeniably qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. 

“President Obama has carried out his constitutional duty in nominating a superbly qualified nominee to the Supreme Court.  I know his decision was the result of thorough and careful consideration.  The President also consulted with both Republican and Democratic Senators before making this nomination.  Now it is time for the Senate to do its job. 

“There is more than enough time for Senators to publicly and thoroughly examine Chief Judge Garland’s qualifications and vote on his confirmation before Memorial Day.  For more than 40 years, the Senate has held a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominees on average 70 days after their formal nomination.  The Senate should afford Chief Judge Garland the same process with a fair and public hearing in April, and the full Senate should vote on his confirmation by May 25. 

“I intend to meet with Judge Garland very soon, and I expect my fellow Senators will do the same.  Next, we will all review his record and prepare for a public hearing.  Our constitutional duties as Senators and the traditions of our institution should not be trumped by partisan politics.”

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