Democrats Plan Mock Hearing on Supreme Court Nominee

The meeting is the latest bid to push Republicans to consider Judge Garland

Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, left, and Judge Merrick Garland met in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, left, and Judge Merrick Garland met in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 17, 2016 at 10:59am

With Republicans refusing to hold a hearing on the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are hosting their own mock hearing of sorts for Judge Merrick Garland.  

The committee’s ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont announced Wednesday’s public meeting late Monday night, saying in a statement, “The public discussion we are convening allows senators, the press, and the public to learn more about this highly qualified nominee and the importance of a fully functioning Supreme Court.”  

[Related: Democrats Play ‘Trump Card’ Over Court Standoff]

The meeting is the latest in the Democratic effort to push Republicans to consider Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. But Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have vowed not to consider the nomination , arguing that the next president should fill the vacancy.  

[Related: 7 Things Merrick Garland Told the Senate About Himself]

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, can call an official hearing, but he has said he will not do so. Democrats, who are in the minority, do not have the power to convene a committee hearing, so they have characterized the Wednesday event as a “public meeting.”  

The meeting will include four former colleagues and supporters:  

— Donna Bucella, a former prosecutor on the Oklahoma City bombing case, which Garland led.  

— Justin Driver, a former law clerk of Garland’s.  

— Rodney Slater, former Transportation Secretary who joined civil rights leaders supporting Garland’s nomination.  

— Timothy K. Lewis, a former appellate judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush.  

Hearing from public witnesses is typically part of the Supreme Court nomination process, after the Judiciary Committee questions the nominee.  

[Related: Meeting with Merrick]

Democrats have so far attempted to move forward with the formalities of the nomination process, including holding meetings with Garland . Several Republicans have also sat down with the nominee, though the caucus is still largely united in their view that the Senate should not hold hearings or a vote on the nomination. Garland submitted a questionnaire  to the committee last week, also a typical step in the process.

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