Lankford, Inhofe weigh in on SCOTUS nominee

Posted at 7:02 AM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 13:13:48-04

President Obama announced Merrick Garland as his choice for a nominee to replace recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Wednesday.

Merrick Garland, 63, is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Garland has served for nearly two decades on the bench and as a prosecutor, he oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing and “Unabomber” terror cases, as per NBC News. 

NBC goes on to say that Garland has been cited as a centrist. Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit in 1995 but he wasn’t voted in by the Senate until 1997. NBC says the Senate wasn’t opposed to the idea of Garland but according to what Iowa Rep. Sen. Charles Grassley told NBC at the time, it was more about whether or not the court needed another judge at all.

Garland’s name was brought up in 2010 as a possible SCOTUS nominee and, NBC says, some liberal activists opposed the idea but ultimately Elena Kagan was chosen. In 2013, he was appointed the D.C. Circuit's chief justice.

There has been debate among Republicans and Democrats as to whether or not Obama should fill the empty SCOTUS seat or if the candidate elected later this year should carry the responsibility.

Senator Jim Inhofe sent a statement regarding Obama’s choice saying “While I will evaluate the nomination of Merrick Garland, the next president should be the one to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. President Obama has worked to ram through his liberal agenda by way of executive actions, of which many are now tied up in the courts. This has created a situation where we need to be cautious as to who will fill the vacancy left behind by Justice Scalia. It makes the current presidential election all that more important as not only are the next four years in play but an entire generation of Americans will be impacted by the balance of the court and its rulings. Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Harry Reid have all made statements that the Senate does not have to confirm presidential nominations in an election year. I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.”

According to the Washington Post, Inhofe is one of seven sitting Republicans to have voted to confirm Garland to the DC Circuit in 1997. An Inhofe spokesperson says Inhofe’s position is about principle over person and with the balance of the court in play he is going to oppose an election cycle nomination.

Senator James Lankford also sent a statement saying “The death of Justice Antonin Scalia is an enormous loss for the Supreme Court, but more importantly for our nation. A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is extremely important and will shape monumental decisions that will impact America for decades. Justice Scalia’s constitutional approach to legal interpretation should be the standard for people who serve on the Highest Court in the land. Article 2, section 2 of the Constitution gives the President and the Senate an equal 50-50 responsibility in the process of filling a Supreme Court vacancy. The President has today fulfilled his constitutional requirement, now the Senate has an opportunity to provide 'advice and consent.’ While the Constitution says the President shall nominate judges to the Supreme Court, it does not say the Senate shall approve the nominee. Based on previous historical precedent, I support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s intent to give the American people a say in Justice Scalia’s replacement this year at the ballot box. In June 25, 1992, then-Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Joe Biden, said, “Can our Supreme Court nomination and confirmation processes, so racked by discord and bitterness, be repaired in a Presidential election year? History teaches us that this is extremely unlikely. It is my view that if the President presses an election-year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.” Biden also said 'President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not--and not--name a nominee until after the November election is completed.'"

Congressman Tom Cole sent a statement saying “Under the Constitution, it may be the president’s prerogative to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, but the Senate has no obligation to act on that nomination,” said Cole. “The will of the American people, which will be expressed in the upcoming presidential election, should weigh heavily in the nomination of the next Justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate has no obligation to rubber stamp President Obama’s nomination and is right to wait until the citizens have had their chance to weigh in.”

"In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I'm doing my job, Obama said in an email to NBC Wednesday. "I hope that our Senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee. That is what the Constitution dictates, and that's what the American people expect and deserve from their leaders."

Previously Obama has nominated and appointed two Supreme Court Justices: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. If chosen, Garland would be the fourth Jewish justice currently on the Supreme Court. The other five are Catholic.