U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, D-Delaware, urge Republican and Democratic Senators to participate in a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court judge selection.
The president announced his decision to nominate Merrick Garland for Supreme Court Wednesday morning.
“The fair thing to do, the valid thing to do, is for the Senate to do its constitutional job and provide advice and consent,” Coons said.
The position in the Supreme Court became vacant last month when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of natural causes.
Since then, Republicans have vowed to prevent attempts to fill the position before a new president is sworn into office in January.
Coons and Carper said they believe Obama fulfilled a constitutional responsibility by nominating a candidate, and that year-long vacancies should not be allowed.
“(The President) was elected to a four-year term, and I think having a vacancy is a dereliction of duty for the members of Senate who are refusing to even meet with the judge,” Coons said.
Garland, 63, who has been labeled a moderate, is a former prosecutor who joined the appeals court in 1995 during Bill Clinton’s presidential term with support from Republicans and Democrats.
His accomplishments include overseeing the investigations of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber case and the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Garland also has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.
“By the judge’s comments, his decency, his balance, his life story, his background, all suggest a nominee eminently qualified to serve on Supreme Court,” Coons said.
He said in the next couple of weeks he will learn more about Garland’s record and biography, and schedule a meeting with him before making an official decision on the nominee—something he hopes all Senators will do.
“Particularly now the president has nominated someone who in the past has been a bi-partisan candidate, someone by his resume is eminently qualified and prepared to serve on Supreme Court,” he said.
Carper released a statement saying he too will meet with Garland. He said he’s disappointed some of his Republican colleagues insist the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until a new president is sworn in.
“Each of us has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution–some of us many times over–and any abdication of this duty is a failure to serve the American people as we’ve been elected to do,” Carper said in a statement.
“The right and just way to proceed is to begin consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination right away, first in committee and then on the Senate floor. Each of us has a duty to cast our vote, and we should be given the opportunity to uphold it.”