Grassley: Judiciary Won't Hold Hearing on Merrick This Year

Judgments on President Obama's nomination of D.C. Appeals Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court were handed down quickly from the Hill and elsewhere, including one by Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley, who doubled down on his position that no hearing on a Supreme Court nominee would be held in an election year.

“Today the president has exercised his constitutional authority," Grassley said. "A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged [primary] contests."

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was the president's right to nominate a Justice, and the Senate's to act as a "check." That, in his view, means not holding court nominee hearings this year. McConnell said the choice of Judge Garland was not because the president thought he would be confirmed, but to politicize the process.

"With two decades of federal court experience, Garland is fully prepared for all of the responsibilities he will face as our next Supreme Court justice -- no matter how Senate Republicans try to spin it," said Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

Online activist group Demand Progress said it was disappointed the president didn't nominate a more progressive judge and was withholding judgment on Garland, but called on Republicans to hold a hearing.

"It's disappointing that President Obama missed the opportunity to solidify his legacy by appointing a true progressive to the Supreme Court," the group said. "As Demand Progress and other organizations determine whether we can support this nomination, one thing is clear: Senate Republicans must do their jobs under the constitution and move without delay to give Merrick Garland a fair hearing."

Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, which has been pushing to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia this year, said: "President Obama has met his constitutional responsibility and has put forward a nominee for the Supreme Court with impeccable credentials and qualifications. The President has done his job; it's time for Senate Republicans to stop playing politics and do theirs and give Judge Garland fair consideration for a seat on the Supreme Court."

Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said: “In choosing Chief Judge Garland to fill this vacancy, President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to the constitution and our democracy to make sure that the Supreme Court is fully equipped to serve our nation with its full complement of nine justices. Judge Garland is the most well-prepared Supreme Court nominee in generations."

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, said: “Chief Judge Garland is widely respected by legal experts from across the political spectrum and has a real shot at earning bipartisan support in the Senate. It’s time to end the political gamesmanship and do the job that the American people elected us to do."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.