WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday responded to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the Senate would not consider Garland or any other nominee put forth by the current administration.
“It is a president’s Constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice; and it is the Senate’s right to act as a check on a president and withhold it’s consent.” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday morning in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. If confirmed, Garland would take the place of the late Antonin Scalia, a conservative.
Garland, a moderate jurist, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President Bill Clinton in September 1995, confirmed in 1997 and was on Obama’s short list of nominees for his previous two Supreme Court appointments.
Quoting Vice President Joe Biden, McConnell invoked his interpretation of the “Biden Rule,” in what McConnell said would ensure the American people a voice in the Supreme Court decision.
Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell read from a prepared statement. “‘Others may fret that this approach would leave the court with only eight members for quite some time. But as I see it,’ Chairman Biden said. The cost of such a result, the need to re-argue three or four cases that will decide the justices 4 to 4, are quite modern, compared to the cost that a nominee, the President, the Senate and the Nation, would have to pay for what would assuredly be a bitter fight no matter how good a person is nominated by the President,’ Chairman Joe Biden.”
Biden responded in a Twitter post, saying “There’s only one #BidenRule I followed while in the Senate: Every #SCOTUSnominee gets a hearing, committee vote, and floor vote. Period.”
In refusing to allow the nomination process to go forward, the Republican-controlled Senate effectively blocks forward movement on key decisions pending before the court. That list includes implementation of the President’s Clean Power Plan, halted in a 5-4 vote just days before Scalia’s death. Absence of the ninth justice affirms the existence of an evenly split court.
Garland’s moderate stance, a disappointment to liberals hoping for a more progressive justice, created apprehension for those hoping to seat a judge whose positions on abortion, immigration, gay rights, collective bargaining and environment were vetted.
If McConnell’s statements are to be taken as testament, Garland’s Supreme Court appointment may mirror his path to the Federal bench, with no action taken in the first round.
“The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next President nominates, whoever that might be,” McConnell said.