Washington – Despite a huge Republican wall of resistance to having President Obama fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Connecticut’s Democratic senators say the nominee Obama put forward Wednesday has a chance of confirmation.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he and other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee learned the identity of the nominee on a conference call with the president Tuesday morning. It is Merrick Garland, 63, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit. He has been on a Supreme Court short list since 1997.
Blumenthal, and most of his fellow Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, then attended the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden where Garland’s candidacy was announced to the public – and Obama urged Senate Republicans to give the nominee a hearing in the Judiciary Committee and a full-Senate vote.
“I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee,” Obama said.
Most Republican senators Wednesday continued to hold fast to their objections over Obama’s move to fill a vacancy on the high court so late in his last term. They say the next president should choose the candidate who will most likely be the swing vote in a court that’s now divided between four liberals and four conservatives.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, like Blumenthal, will be on the front lines of the upcoming battle.
One plan is to hold a televised confirmation hearing anyway, even if Republican senators don’t show up. That would allow the American public to get to know the nominee.
“There are a variety of strategies going forward,” Blumenthal said. “But a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Blumenthal, who once worked for the Justice Department, and as Connecticut’s attorney general, said he has had many contacts throughout his career with Garland, who also once worked at the Justice Department.
“I’ve known him for many years and what you see is what you get,” Blumenthal said.
He also said “our families know each other,” but would not elaborate.
Although Republican senators, with the possible lone exception of Sen. Sue Collins, R-Maine, have said they don’t want to consider Garland’s nomination, Blumenthal said. “My hope is that the American people will make them change their minds.”
“The Republican leaders’ position is completely untenable and unsustainable,” Blumenthal said. “The American people are completely fed up with a Congress stuck in gridlock.”
Sen. Chris Murphy called the GOP’s politicizing of the Supreme Court “a mistake.” Like Blumenthal, he thinks there’s a chance the Senate will consider Garland’s candidacy.
“I’ve not given up hopes that we couldn’t get a vote,” Murphy said.