Democrats Pressure GOP to Hear Garland Out

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Democrats used Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland’s submission of a questionnaire detailing his career to the Senate Judiciary Committee to put more pressure on Republicans to hold hearings on the judge.
     The 142-page document is effectively an extended resume for Garland and allows senators to review the qualifications of the man tapped to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.
     After providing his basic biographical information, Garland briefly describes the ten most significant opinions he wrote while on the bench, as well as providing a comprehensive list of every opinion he ever wrote or joined.
     Among Garland’s list of most important opinions is his dissent in Saleh v. Titan Corp., a 2009 case in which the D.C. Circuit dismissed the claims of prisoners who said they were abused at the Abu Ghraib prison complex. Garland disagreed with the court, saying “no act of Congress or judicial precedent barred the plaintiffs from suing private contractors.”
     He also lists his 2008 opinion in Parhat v. Gates, which struck down a decision by a combatant status review tribunal to designate a Chinese Uighur held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant under the Detainee Treatment Act.
     Even though Garland’s answers note he once gave a toast for Chief Justice John Roberts, his submission of the questionnaire does not seemed to have softened GOP opposition to his nomination.
     Almost immediately after Scalia’s death, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they would not hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination, arguing the next president should pick Scalia’s replacement.
     While some Republicans have met with Garland, including committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley, the blockade has largely held firm.
     A spokeswoman for Grassley said the questionnaire will change nothing about Garland’s stalled nomination and doubted the Iowa Republican would read it as a result.
     Meanwhile, Senate Democrats used the questionnaire to further their months-long offensive on Republicans for their recalcitrance.
     Standing behind six white file boxes that held Garland’s response to the questionnaire, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged their Republican colleagues to read the documents and stand down.
     “I would say now that we have this, let’s have some confirmation hearings,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said at the press conference. “We have never in my lifetime had a time where there’s been a nominee for Supreme Court and they haven’t been offered a hearing.”
     Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tied the GOP stand to the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, and made an appeal to Republicans who have not embraced the controversial businessman to consider Garland as a desirable alternative to whomever Trump might appoint should he win the election in November.
     “I have a simple question for senators who are squeamish or opposed to Mr. Trump,” Schumer said at the press conference. “Why are you trying to give him a chance to name the next Supreme Court justice? You don’t think he’s qualified to be commander in chief, you don’t think he’s got a rational economic plan based on facts that will lift our economy and create jobs? Then why on earth would you empower him to make a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court? “
     Sen. Dick Durbin later joked Trump might bring Judge Judy out of retirement if given the opportunity to appoint someone to the Supreme Court.
     One such skeptical Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., admitted Tuesday he would like more information from Trump on who his choice would be to replace Scalia, a conservative legal icon, on the bench of the nation’s highest court.
     Flake told reporters he would read Garland’s questionnaire and further expressed doubt about Trump’s qualifications to serve as president. Still, he said Trump would appoint a more right-leaning justice than Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and admitted his main goal in the nomination is getting another conservative on the court.
     “I think most Republicans, obviously I can’t speak for others, but for myself, I may be willing to roll the dice,” Flake said. “I want the most conservative jurist to replace Judge Scalia that we can. That’s the principle, not well, the next Congress ought to decide or the next Senate or the next president. We ought to have a conservative jurist replace Scalia.”
     A Clinton victory could also bring an interesting dilemma for Senate Democrats who have beat the drum for Garland for months. When pressed by reporters Tuesday, Leahy would not commit to continuing with the Garland nomination if Clinton were to win the Oval Office in November.

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