WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Barack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat after his sudden passing last month. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) issued the following statement:
“Today, President Obama fulfilled his constitutional responsibility by nominating Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The President undertook the responsibility of identifying a nominee seriously, and has put forth a nominee with a long record of experience serving and leading the second highest court in our nation. Judge Garland has enjoyed notable bipartisan support throughout his professional career. It is now time for the Senate to carry forth its constitutional responsibility and provide Judge Garland with a full and fair hearing, and a floor vote. Each day that the Supreme Court sits with a vacant seat impairs the ability of the Court to play its vital role in our constitutional democracy of protecting the rights of minorities.”
Judge Garland has been a federal appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for nearly 20 years. Prior to his appointment to the D.C. Circuit, Chief Judge Garland served as a federal prosecutor and a partner at Arnold & Porter. As principal associate deputy attorney general, he oversaw the prosecutions of the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber.
Judge Garland clerked for Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court from 1978 to 1979. He also served as a co-clerk with Chief Justice John Roberts for Judge Henry Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1977 to 1978. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.
Last week, the Lawyers’ Committee issued a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to Senator Grassley and other Judiciary Committee member’s public refusal to consider any nominee put forth by the president. The Lawyers’ Committee also issued a report that looked at legal and historical precedents regarding Supreme Court vacancies. The report concluded that the Senate should carry out its constitutional responsibility, given the critical role of the Supreme Court in our democracy. The report also found that refusal to consider a nominee under these circumstances would be unprecedented. The Lawyers’ Committee will present a subsequent Nominee Report outlining its views on Judge’s Garland’s record of jurisprudence in the days ahead.