Leahy In The Oklahoman: Merrick Garland Is The Right Pick For This Moment In History

WEDNESDAY, March 30, 2016) – The American people continue to call on Senate Republicans to do their jobs and give Supreme Court nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland a prompt hearing and a vote.  On Wednesday, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the pages of The Oklahoman to praise Garland as “a unifying choice, bringing together Democrats and Republicans.”

“In these highly charged moments, we must temper our partisan impulses and listen to each other, looking for a way to keep doing the work of the people,” Leahy wrote.  “That is exactly the path the president has chosen in nominating Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.”

In 1995, Garland supervised the team prosecuting the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people in a devastating act of domestic terrorism.  His work drew praise from Democrats and Republicans, who later supported his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals where Garland currently serves as Chief Judge. 

Leahy and all Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Chairman Grassley earlier this week to call on him to follow the Senate’s well-established history of providing a fair and transparent process for Supreme Court nominees. Based on past precedent, the Judiciary Committee should hold confirmation hearings beginning on April 27 and the full Senate should vote on Garland’s nomination by Memorial Day.

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(As published in The Oklahoman)

Sen. Patrick Leahy: U.S. Senate needs to act on high court nomination

By U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy Published: March 30, 2016

In selecting Chief Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to the Supreme Court, President Obama sought to rise above politics. He picked an eminently qualified judge who has received praise across the political spectrum. He picked someone who could unite us. 

Despite the president's overture, Senate Republicans refuse to even consider Judge Garland's nomination. Instead, they point to the extended political party nomination process to somehow justify not doing their jobs as senators.

An election year is not a license to obstruct or a reason to abdicate our constitutional responsibilities. Precisely the opposite is true. In these highly charged moments, we must temper our partisan impulses and listen to each other, looking for a way to keep doing the work of the people.

That is exactly the path the president has chosen in nominating Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.

Judge Garland's accomplishments are truly exceptional. For nearly two decades, he has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — known as the second-highest court in the land, only behind the Supreme Court. He has earned bipartisan praise for being an undeniably fair-minded and independent judge.

And as a former federal prosecutor, Judge Garland understands the real life impact the law has on victims and those seeking justice in our courts. He led the teams prosecuting some of the most notorious domestic terrorism cases in our history, including the Oklahoma City bombing — a case that Judge Garland called “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”

His nomination is also a unifying choice, bringing together Democrats and Republicans. In 2010, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Judge Garland would be “a consensus nominee” and there was “no question” he could be confirmed for the Supreme Court.

Every time a president has made a Supreme Court nomination, the Senate has given the nominee full and fair process. And here, President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to nominate by actively consulting with the Senate. He listened to Senate Republicans, and he selected an individual repeatedly described as a consensus nominee.  So it is not surprising that more and more Republican senators are now expressing their willingness to meet with Judge Garland as a first step.

The American public overwhelming supports an open and public confirmation process. In a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — said that the Senate should give Judge Garland a hearing. Fairness and transparency should not be too much to ask of us for a nomination of such considerable importance.

I have participated in the hearings of every current member of the U.S. Supreme Court. As the Senate has done many times before, I am optimistic that Republican leadership will allow this nomination to move forward — for the good of the American people and our constitutional democracy. Our great country depends on people like Chief Judge Merrick Garland who are willing to serve and to do so at times of great challenge for the nation. President Obama has acted responsibly and laudably. Now the Senate must act and restore confidence to the American people looking for real leadership in Washington.

Leahy, D-Vt.,is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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