Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Americans are growing “more terrified” of a President Donald Trump choosing the next Supreme Court justice and would rather have the Senate vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, before the 2016 election.
“It couldn’t be clearer from state and national polls, the public is overwhelmingly on our side. Every day, voters grow more frustrated with Republican obstruction and more terrified with the prospect of Donald Trump picking the next Supreme Court justice,” he said on a conference call hosted by the Constitution Responsibility Project. “The activity we saw across the country in the last two weeks was unprecedented.”
Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee, mentioned that more than a million Americans signed various petitions calling on the Senate to confirm Garland’s nomination. A petition sponsored by moveon.org has been signed by more than 230,000 people.
Schumer said a confirmation hearing would give Senate Republicans a chance to examine Garland’s record.
“Republicans can dig into any part of his record they choose,” he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), president pro tempore of the Senate, said on March 11 that the Senate is not going to take action on the vacancy.
“The Senate has never confirmed a nominee to a Supreme Court vacancy that opened up late, this late, during the president’s time in office,” Hatch said in a speech that was interrupted by liberal protesters chanting, “Do your job.”
Hatch said senators including Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), former Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and former Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have attempted to block Republican presidents’ Supreme Court nominees in the past.
“All that’s happening is the chickens are coming home to roost,” he said.
Despite the Republican opposition to filling the vacancy before the election, Schumer is confident Republicans are going to ultimately hold a vote on Garland’s nomination.
“When Republicans sit down with Judge Garland this week and in weeks beyond, they’re going to see what I saw: incredible intellect, a brilliant legal mind and a thoughtful person who deserves the Senate’s thoughtful consideration,” he said.
Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, said many polls have shown that the majority of Americans do not agree with the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to hold a confirmation hearing.
Garin cited a Monmouth University poll, which revealed that 77 percent of those polled believe the GOP is playing politics with the Supreme Court vacancy.
“Overwhelmingly, the American people have said that this is not about principle but only about politics,” he said.