It’s been 72 days since Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court, and Senate Republicans continue to block that nomination from even receiving a hearing. Garland Watch is a regular look at the week in Garland news and Senate obstruction.
Being Merrick Garland these days means being at the center of events for which you are not even present. Last week, Senate Democrats staged a mock hearing for Garland, without Garland. This week, Sen. Orrin Hatch, who, in a bygone time was one of Garland’s most vociferous supporters, already deemed his scheduled meeting with the nominee to be “unpersuasive,” even though it hasn’t happened yet.
It’s not all bad news for Garland. On Monday, Republican Congressman Daniel Donovan of New York called on fellow party members to consider Garland’s nomination. The congressman said, “You don’t have to confirm the nomination. But [the Senate] should hold the hearings and judge this person who’s the nominee on their credential.” (Though he subsequently admitted, “I haven’t looked at his credentials.”)
The White House is doing all it can to harness that faint sentiment to move Garland’s nomination forward. In March, Obama announced the launch of the Constitutional Responsibility Project, an initiative that aimed to “solicit donations, develop advertising, coordinate messaging, help manage operatives in the field, respond to attacks on Judge Garland and collect opposition research on Republican opponents.” Now, approximately 100 days after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the group is launching a digital ad campaign featuring Republican voices—voters and politicians alike— in support of Garland. According to a memo from project official Amy Brundage, via the Washington Post:
The campaign, she said, will “take over the homepages of leading newspapers” in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — all home to vulnerable GOP incumbents.
“I plan on voting for Donald Trump and I think the Senate should do its dang job. They should give Garland a fair shot,” says a quote in one of the ads, attributed to a Republican voter identified as “Brian C.” of Yeagertown, Pa.
This week also marked the first time a sitting Supreme Court justice has spoken out on the court being down a man or woman. Writes my colleague Mark Stern:
On Thursday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg closed her annual address to the Second Circuit Judicial Conference with a surprising prediction: “Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multimember court,” she told the audience. “When we meet at the Circuit Conference next year, I anticipate reporting on the decisions of a full bench.”
That’s pretty much as far as she’s going to go, according to Stern. Anyway, in routine news, the Senate Judiciary Committee held no hearings this week.