Today President Obama announced his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court: Chief Judge Merrick Garland. Now that he has done his job, it’s time for the Senate to do the same. Yet, the Senate GOP leadership is doing everything in their power to obstruct justice and shirk their constitutional duty, refusing to even hold a hearing or meet with Judge Garland.
The Constitution is very clear: It is the duty of the Senate to act. But in an attempt to block a nominee since the era of Civil War Reconstruction, the Senate Republican leadership is simply refusing to do their job.
Here’s why this matters if you care about women’s health: The Supreme Court makes important decisions every year on issues that impact Planned Parenthood and its patients. The American people deserve a full court, and a justice appointed by the president who they elected for four years — not three.
How the Senate GOP Leaders Are Not Doing Their Job
Here’s what some key Senate GOP leaders were doing even before they knew who the president’s nominee would be:
- Proclaiming that they would block anyone nominated by the president
- Refusing to hold hearings or even meet with the nominee
- Pledging to NOT hold a vote on a nominee
- Actually holding a hearing on a failed, unpopular bill to restrict abortion access
That makes the GOP Senate leadership guilty of blatant obstructionism and of shirking their constitutional duty. What’s more, these positions make them guilty of throwing sand in the gears of Democracy.
What Happened Today — Plus A Quick History Lesson
As soon as President Obama announced his nominee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley doubled down on their position of not even considering the nominee. Fellow Republicans followed suit:
Senate Republicans said they’ll only consider a replacement nominee after the next president takes office — which would mean having an empty seat on the bench for a year or more. They’re swearing up and down that history is on their side for this obstruction, but history actually tells a different story.
The GOP’s obstruction is unprecedented in modern Senate history:
- On average, a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in just 25 days.
- Since 1975, the average time from nomination to confirmation has been 67 days.
- Since 1875, every nominee whose name wasn’t withdrawn has received a hearing and a vote within 125 days of nomination.
- Since 1900, six Supreme Court justices were confirmed during a presidential election year, and an additional three nominees were confirmed a year before a presidential election.
If you need more proof that obstructing the nomination process is political, just look at the GOP’s doublespeak. Just a decade ago, multiple GOP leaders were saying the opposite of what they’re saying today. Here’s McConnell (one of the leaders in the Supreme Court nominee obstruction effort) while President Bush was in office and set to nominate a justice:
“I think the president is entitled to an up-or-down — that is simple majority — vote on nominations . . . Presidents trying to mold the Supreme Court is nothing new. It’s not inappropriate. And we need to get back to tradition, and the tradition is a majority is enough to confirm a judge.”
—Senator Mitch McConnell, March 2005, CNBC’s Kudlow & Company
It’s never been more clear that Senate GOP leaders’ effort to block the president’s nominee has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with politics. There is no reason — and no precedent — for the Senate GOP’s obstruction.
Where Americans Stand
Americans of all political leanings strongly disagree with the obstructionist approach being taken by Republican leaders in the Senate. In fact, poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans want the Senate to consider a nominee. Consider the stats:
- A large majority of battleground-state voters (90% of Democrats, 69% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans) say the Senate should consider President Obama's nominee and take an up-or-down vote.
- GOP leaders’ pre-emptive refusal to consider any nominee of the president raises concerns for 63% of voters in battleground states, who think the position is both extreme and irresponsible.
- 66% of of Americans (including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) think the Republican leadership in the Senate should hold hearings on the nominee.
There you have it: A majority of Americans DON’T want the Senate to delay the Supreme Court nomination process. But GOP Senate leaders don’t care that their agenda is wildly unpopular among a majority of Americans. It’s clear their motives are purely political, meant to pander to the minority of voters who support obstructionist tactics in order to advance their political agenda.
Here’s what these politicians don’t seem to understand: Americans expect their elected leaders to do their job. Americans will reject this kind of obstructionism.
About Merrick Garland
Here’s what you need to know about Judge Garland: He is currently the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He’s also at, highly accomplished judge who has secured bipartisan support in his previous appointments.
Now that the president has upheld his constitutional duty of nominating a replacement for Justice Scalia, it is time for the Senate to uphold theirs. The American people deserve a full court.
It is time for the Senate to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and an up or down vote.
Tell GOP Senators to #DoYourJob!
This is simply not how our democracy functions. With so much at stake for reproductive rights, women across America deserve to have a full court with nine justices.