In this week’s address, US President Barack Obama repeated his call for Republicans in the United States Senate to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote. It has been 45 days since President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. The President highlighted that Senate Republicans have said that Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity and impeccable qualifications. Despite this, most Senate Republicans refused to do their job and give Judge Garland the consideration he deserves. The President made clear that the Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics, and that’s why the President did his job in nominating Merrick Garland. Now, it’s time for the Senate to do its job.
Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
The White House
April 30, 2016
Hi, everybody. It’s now been 45 days since I nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity, and unimpeachable qualifications. Judge Garland is someone who Senate Republicans are on record saying is “a man of accomplishment and keen intellect;” a man who’s “honest and capable;” a man whose “reputation is beyond reproach.” Those are all quotes from Republicans in the Senate.
But so far, most Senate Republicans have refused to even meet with Judge Garland. Which means they’ve also refused to do their job and hold a hearing on his nomination, or an up-or-down vote. But they’ve still found time to head home for recess over the next week.
This is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility. Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. For over 40 years, there’s been an average of 67 days between a nomination and a hearing. This time should be no different. This is not about partisan politics – it’s about upholding the institutions that make our democracy work.
There’s a reason Judge Garland has earned the respect of people from both political parties. As a young lawyer, he left a lucrative private firm to work in public service. He went to oversee the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing. For the last 19 years, Judge Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit Court – often called “the Second Highest Court in the Land” – and for the past three years, he’s served as that court’s Chief Judge. In fact, Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. With a brilliant mind, a kind spirit, and a good heart, he has dedicated his life to protecting our rights, and ensuring that the voices of everyday Americans are heard.
So there is absolutely no reason for Republican Senators to deny him the basic courtesy of a hearing and a vote – the same courtesy that has been extended to others. This refusal to treat a Supreme Court nomination with the seriousness it deserves is what makes people so cynical about Washington. That’s why poll after poll shows a majority of Americans think Senate Republicans should do their job; give Judge Garland a hearing; and give Judge Garland a vote.
For all of our political differences, Americans understand that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. And in the middle of a volatile political season, it is more important than ever that we fulfill our duties – in good faith – as public servants. The Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics. I’ve done my job – I nominated someone as qualified as Merrick Garland. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their job. Give Judge Garland a hearing. Give Judge Garland an up-or-down vote. Treat him – and our democracy – with the respect they deserve.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.