Subscribe

Still waiting: Merrick Garland has longest wait for confirmation

Merrick Garland has waited 125 days for a US Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and likely won't have another chance until this fall at the earliest.

  • close
    Chief Judge Merrick Garland, a Niles West High School alumnus, from the class of 1970, speaks at Niles West's 2016 commencement ceremony in May, in Skokie, Ill.
    Tim Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times via AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The man who is perhaps the quietest casualty of the fraught presidential election season, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is still waiting in the wings for a chance at a confirmation hearing before the US Senate.

With Congress entering the first days of a seven-week summer recess, Chief Judge Garland is now poised to break the official record for the US Supreme Court nominee to wait the longest for a confirmation hearing. As of Tuesday, he has pulled even with Justice Louis Brandeis, who was confirmed after a half-year wait in 1916.

President Obama nominated Garland in mid-March, following the February death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Conscious that whomever he nominated would face increased scrutiny due to the coming presidential election, Mr. Obama considered his choices for a month before he settled on Garland, who he felt was the nominee most likely to be granted a confirmation hearing.

“I’ve selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence,” the president said during his March 16 announcement.

Yet despite Obama’s decision to nominate a man who he calls, “respected on both sides of the aisle,” the Republican-dominated Senate continues to refuse to grant Garland a confirmation hearing, instead hoping that Obama’s successor will make a new choice – assuming that that choice is more conservative.

Unfortunately for Garland, his situation is most unusual. Supreme Court nominees typically wait just over two months for a confirmation hearing. Obama’s previous nominees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, waited 49 and 47 days, respectively.

Although both Garland and the White House have taken steps to persuade Republican leaders, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky, to grant the nominee a hearing, their efforts have been to no avail. 

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed written by Obama, decrying the Senate’s immobility on the issue and arguing that it sets a dangerous precedent for making the Court "a proxy for political parties," with "resulting lack of trust [that] can undermine the rule of law."

"This is much more serious than your typical case of Washington dysfunction," Obama wrote. "And if we allow it to continue, the consequences of congressional inaction could weaken our most important institutions, erode public trust and undermine our democracy."

Every other Supreme Court nominee in history has at least been granted a confirmation hearing, unless they withdraw their nomination, said Obama.

Without a nine justice court, important legal decisions can become deadlocked by ties. Without a tie-breaking justice, the Supreme Court has been unable to reach definitive decisions on a number of important issues; the late June decision on Obama's immigration policies, for example, was 4-4. Twenty nine lower courts have declared judicial emergencies.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that some Republican Senators have said that if Clinton is elected, they may quickly confirm Garland, out of fear that Clinton might nominate a more liberal candidate.

 

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK