The Slatest

Garland Watch: Supreme Court Nominee Mistaken for Robert Durst, Still Getting No Hearings

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Garland leans against wall, still waiting for a hearing. 

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Merrick Garland had a busy week. Apart from meetings with senators and public appearances, the nominee was also mistaken for real estate heir and alleged murderer Robert Durst. On Wednesday morning, NBC News tweeted a story about Durst’s seven-year sentence on a weapons charge with a picture of Garland.

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For what it’s worth, it happens to the best of us.

In non-shenanigans news, Garland had a joint meeting with Oklahoma Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe on Wednesday. The Republican duo met the nominee for almost 55 minutes, the New York Times reported. In that time, though, the topic of his nomination apparently was never discussed! “This was not some interview for a potential justice, so we didn’t talk about issues and the topic never came up, quite frankly of the whole process,” Lankford said. Instead, the trio focused on Garland’s past support of the state of Oklahoma, including the work he did to help prosecute the Oklahoma City bombers. “[Garland] has tremendous memories of us and the people of Oklahoma and we have incredible gratitude of him,” Lankford said. Both Lankford and Inhofe are opposed to holding a Senate hearing on Garland’s nomination, although Inhofe supported Garland’s nomination for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1997.

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It was reported this week, meanwhile, that Sen. Chuck Grassley—one of the GOP’s most vocal opponents of a Senate hearing on Garland—made some revealing comments about his motivations for the continued obstruction. In a conference call with the pro-life non-profit organization, Susan B. Anthony List, earlier this month, Grassley said, “I can’t overstate the importance of what’s at stake here… We know if another liberal is nominated to the court then even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law—through the democratic process, I might say—these would be swept away.” Grassley had previously emphasized that his reasons for not giving Garland a hearing was the politicization of the court, not because he personally wanted a fifth vote to uphold abortion restrictions, which is clearly not a politicized motivation at all.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Grassley is the chair, was comparatively busier than last week—though that’s not saying much. On Tuesday, the committee held a hearing on the “need for timeliness and transparency” in providing benefits to the survivors of public safety officers who die in the line of duty. On Wednesday the committee commenced a hearing entitled, “Counterfeits and Their Impact on Consumer Health and Safety.” The committee concluded the week on Thursday with a bipartisan news conference announcing new provisions and cosponsors to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which aims to reduce minimum federal sentences for drug and gun violations and to make those sentences retroactive. Next week on the agenda: More stuff that isn’t a hearing for Merrick Garland.

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