WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (2007-2010), issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
“President Obama has fulfilled his constitutional responsibility by nominating Chief Judge Merrick Garland, a Marylander, to fill the vacancy left by the sudden death of Justice Scalia. The president moved forward in a deliberate and timely manner and it is now necessary for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to consider the nomination through a fair hearing and a thoughtful floor debate before a timely vote of the full Senate. Justice Scalia would expect nothing less than for the President and the Congress to follow the letter and spirit of the Constitution, our nation’s most fundamental legal document. The United States Supreme Court affects the lives of every American and they deserve to have a Supreme Court that is fully operational.
“I was on hand at the White House to witness the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, a Marylander, to become the next Supreme Court Justice. He is an eminently qualified pick to replace Justice Scalia. I look forward to Chief Judge Garland’s confirmation hearings so that I, and the American public, can learn even more about him. I hope Senate Republicans will not deny the American people that basic courtesy. Chief Judge Garland has had an impressive career. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Brennan, practiced in the private sector, served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division in the Department of Justice. He was confirmed a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a strong bipartisan manner. Chief Judge Garland’s experience in prosecuting both Theodore Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh add another layer of qualification to his already strong resume. His appointment would ensure that the highest court in the land remains to be filled with those who possess an unassailable commitment to justice.
“The American people twice elected President Obama to four-year terms in office; their voices have been heard very clearly. This position and the Supreme Court are too important to fall victim to mindless partisan politics. History has shown that when the roles were reversed and Democrats held the majority in the Senate, Supreme Court and judicial nominees for Republican presidents were given hearings and up-or-down votes regardless of when the vacancies occurred. Justice Kennedy was confirmed for the Supreme Court in the last year of President Ronald Reagan’s final term in 1988. And the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed numerous judicial nominees of President George W. Bush throughout his final year in office, including nearly a dozen judges in September 2008, just weeks before the election of President Obama.”