Judge Garland Withheld Key Financial Information From Senate

Jurist did not include a financial net worth statement

Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on March 30. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on March 30. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 11, 2016 at 4:57pm

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland left out a key piece of financial disclosure information when he filed nomination paperwork to the Senate on Tuesday.  

Garland filled out the standard nomination questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, did not ask him to do so. Grassley has said repeatedly he won’t hold confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  

When Garland submitted his questionnaire and related documents — totaling 2,200 pages — on Tuesday, the White House used the occasion to ding Grassley for refusing to move the nomination. Senate Democrats pointed to boxes of paperwork at a news conference to illustrate Garland’s extensive response to the questionnaire.  

But Garland did not include a financial net worth statement as requested in Question 23. Obama’s last two picks for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, both provided the net worth statement in their committee questionnaire, according to Government Printing Office records.  

The White House helps judicial nominees fill out the questionnaire and routinely files the net worth information.  

That information is generally considered the most sensitive and personal information a nominee must provide as part of the confirmation process. Judiciary Committee staff labeled Garland’s questionnaire as “incomplete” on the committee website.  

[Related: 7 Things Merrick Garland Has Told the Senate About Himself]
The omission protects Garland’s privacy as long as it appears Republicans will persist in not holding confirmation hearings. But it also could be seen as a way to prompt Republicans into unwittingly starting the confirmation process by asking for more information.  

Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, did provide some financial information, listing his investments and trusts with ranges of value. That includes property in New York valued between $1 million and $5 million, as well as a Fidelity index fund and a Fidelity Contrafund each valued in that same range.  

Missing, however, is a standard chart that itemizes in detail all assets — including those investments and real estate — and all liabilities for members of his household.  

Sotomayor submitted that chart as part of her confirmation questionnaire in 2009. She listed a net worth of $740,053. Her assets at that time included $1 million in real estate and $108,918 for cars and other property; her liabilities then included $381,775 for mortgages and $15,000 for a dentist bill.  

White House spokesperson Brandi Hoffine said Garland would provide more information — if Grassley asked for it.  

“Chief Judge Garland included information on his personal finances in the questionnaire he submitted to the Judiciary Committee today,” Hoffine said in an email Tuesday. “If the Senate Judiciary Committee would like to request further detail, Chief Judge Garland stands ready to provide that additional information promptly.”  

A spokeswoman for Grassley declined to comment on the missing net worth information. A spokeswoman for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary, also declined to comment and referred to a written statement from Leahy about Garland.  

“He has done his part, and now it is time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to do its job by promptly reviewing the nominee’s record and scheduling a public confirmation hearing,” Leahy said in that statement. “I and my staff have begun reviewing Chief Judge Garland’s materials, and I expect Committee Republicans to do the same.”  

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