After a careful and deliberate process, President Obama on March 16 nominated Merrick Garland—chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Garland is a highly qualified and widely respected jurist who is well-known for carefully deciding cases based on existing law, respect for precedent and the facts presented. He was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 76 to 23 in 1997.
"As we teach high school government students, the Constitution is crystal clear about what to do when there's a Supreme Court vacancy: The president of the United States nominates a candidate for the bench, and the Senate provides advice and consent," AFT President Randi Weingarten says.
"The Constitution does not say the president shall nominate a justice—unless it is the fourth year of his term. Six times since 1900, the president has put forth a nominee during the final year of his term. All six—as well as Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated in November 1987 and confirmed in 1988—were given hearings and nearly all received an up-or-down vote.
"For the last seven years, Senate Republicans have attempted to block President Obama at every turn, with no regard for the damage they inflicted on American families. Their stubborn refusal to consider a nominee puts politics over responsibility and, in so doing, dishonors our Constitution. The people of their states elected them to do a job. They swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. They are doing neither of those things.
"So I have a simple message to Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and other senators who say they will not even schedule a hearing. Working people across America get up every day and do our jobs. We expect the same from our United States senators. Do. Your. Job."
[AFT press release]