The Slatest

Merrick Garland to Give High School Commencement Address, Continues to be Ignored by Senate

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland arrives for a meeting with Sen. Ron Wyden, on Capitol Hill April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Garland will return to his former high school and hopefully rally support from graduating seniors.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate was back in session this week, and the White House wasted no time reminding senators of their continued failure to consider Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, which has now been going on for 58 days. In one of the all-time great acts of presidential passive aggression, the Obama administration sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a completed judicial nominee questionnaire—traditionally this is only answered by invitation of the Senate.

This week also provided a relative onslaught—in Garland coverage terms—of media analysis about the nominee. The New York Times published a feature on “the tango of praise and rejection” between Garland and the GOP. The Washington Post explained why the Republican blockade of Garland is only going to make things worse for them in the long run. And Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick parsed why Garland is so impossible to cover.

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The nominee was also the beneficiary of a heated tirade against the GOP by Montana Sen. Jon Tester, who met with the nominee on Thursday. The Democrat not only reproached the actions of his Senate colleagues as “a dereliction of duty” but also warned that “refusing to meet with Judge Garland is as dangerous as it is unprecedented.”

In its continued practice of pretending like Garland isn’t awaiting a hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee explored a variety of apparently pressing non-Garland topics this week. On Tuesday the committee took a closer look at FISA—the law that regulates the government’s intelligence surveillance. And on Wednesday it turned a critical eye to the Federal Communications Commission and its privacy rules.

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What has Garland himself been working on during this flurry of activity? The nominee confirmed plans to give the commencement address at his high school alma mater, Niles West High School, later this month. The principal of Niles West, Jason Ness, is naturally thrilled to have such an esteemed speaker address his students. “[To host] someone who also walked the halls, sat in the same classrooms, was in the same activities, that’s very inspiring,” Ness gushed. The speech may indeed prove inspiring for bright-eyed high school seniors, but it’s more than a little sad that this could be the most anticipated activity on the Supreme Court nominee’s calendar this month.

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