Tom Cotton’s office assumed it’s all Merrick Garland all the time. D.C.-based attorney Lewis Wiener, however, has a different interest as an ex officio member of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Advisory Counsel.
Wiener wrote a letter to the Arkansas Republican to allow confirmation votes for five judges to that court, which hears disputes about government contracts and tax refund suits.
Cotton has blocked those votes and the nominations have now been pending for more than 20 months. Wiener wrote in a March 21 letter with the subject line, “United States Court of Federal Claims Judicial Nominations.”
Cotton replied in error, “Thank you for contacting me about President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nomination. It’s good to hear from you as always.”
Cotton is among the Senate Republicans who opposes holding a hearing on Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the high court.
At the end of the letter, Cotton concludes: “I am truly honored to serve as your senator; please know that your interests and affairs have my unceasing attention.”
Wiener wrote this letter to Cotton, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on March 21.
“I urge you to allow the Senate to vote on the confirmation of the five nominees to fill five of the six vacant seats on the Court of Federal Claims, which has been pending for over 20 months,” he wrote in the second paragraph.
Because of Senate delay, “the United States Court of Federal Claims has been operating for over two years under the unprecedented strain of approximately one-third of its bench being vacant,” he wrote.
Cotton’s March 24 response was over four paragraphs of his detailed view on Garland. He wrote, “as outlined in the Constitution, the president has the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. However, this power can only be exercised by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
Garland understandably is on every Republican in the Senate’s mind these days, as he meets with his first Republican Senator , Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, on Tuesday.
But, this is not the first time Cotton has heard from Wiener about judicial nominations to the Court of Federal Claims.
Wiener was the president of the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association in 2014. He first wrote to McConnell on May 1 asking about these nominations, which was also signed by four other past presidents of the bar association.
Everything You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Battle
On July 22, he followed up with McConnell again and copied Cotton, Leahy, Grassley and Reid. And on Dec. 1, he wrote to all five senators following up and providing new data. Then, on Feb. 13, Scalia died and the conversation on appointments became all about the high court.
Wiener has not received any other responses to his letters.
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.