(WALL STREET JOURNAL)
By President Obama
For more than 40 years, there has been an average of just over two months between a president’s nominating someone to the Supreme Court and that person’s receiving a hearing in Congress. It has now been more than four months since I nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—and Congress left town for a seven-week recess without giving him a hearing, let alone an up-or-down vote.
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This is much more serious than your typical case of Washington dysfunction. 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Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. Even when the nominee was controversial. Even when the Senate and the White House were held by different parties.
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But Chief Judge Garland isn’t controversial. He has more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in our history. He is widely respected by people of both political parties as a man of experience, integrity and unimpeachable qualifications. The partisan decision of Senate Republicans to deny a hearing to a judge who has served his country with honor and dignity is not just an insult to a good man—it is an unprecedented escalation of the stakes. It threatens the very process by which we nominate judges, regardless of who our next president is. And it should concern every American who cares about the rule of law and upholding the institutions that make our democracy work.