Both of Arkansas’s U.S. Senators say President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland should not be considered for confirmation.
The nomination follows the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The court is now widely considered split along liberal and conservative lines.
In statements released shortly after the President’s announcement, Republican Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton did not respond to the merits of Garland’s nomination but instead contended that the decision should be made by the next President.
The 63 year old Garland is the chief judge of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He previously worked in the Clinton administration’s Justice Department working on high-profile cases including the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings.
Senator Cotton of Dardanelle:
“In a few short months, we will have a new President and new Senators who can consider the next Justice with the full faith of the people. Why would we cut off the national debate on the next Justice? Why would we squelch the voice of the populace? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the make-up of the Supreme Court? There is no reason to do so. I respect President Obama’s right to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. But the stakes are high and we cannot rush this decision. This nomination should not be considered by the Senate at this time.”
Senator Boozman of Rogers:
“The President has a Constitutional right to nominate a candidate to fill this vacancy, but the Senate has made it clear that we do not intend move forward on it. The Constitution clearly defines the roles of each branch and the President's ends with selecting a candidate for the vacancy.
For Senator Reid and his caucus to claim the Senate must vote on this nominee is not only a display of Constitutional ignorance, but highly hypocritical given the words and actions of Senate Democrats in previous election years and the precedent followed for decades in terms of considering Supreme Court vacancies during lame duck presidencies.
Our country is very split and we are in the midst of a highly contested presidential election. My colleagues and I are committed to giving the American people a voice in the direction the court will take for generations to come.”
Boozman and Cotton had previously said the Senate should not consider any nominee by President Barack Obama since he is in his final year of office.
Senator Boozman's Democratic challenger in November Conner Eldridge believes the Senate should begin the confirmation process to at least consider Garland. In a release from the campaign Eldridge didn't say what he thought of the President's pick for the nation's high court but said the Senate shouldn't shy away from evaluating him.
“The American people deserve to have this nominee fully vetted so they can make an informed decision and have their voices heard. But, Senator Boozman won’t even listen. Taxpayers are paying him $174,000 a year (plus benefits) – it seems to me he’s running out of excuses not to work.”
Eldridge himself has been an appointee of the President. He served as US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas from 2010 to 2015. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
Author's note: Garland was the valedictorian at Niles West High School outside of Chicago in 1970 and graduated with my dad's brother. Father says he was "a regular guy," "a nice guy" and an "extremely smart guy."