Weekly Address: President Obama – It’s Time for the Senate To Do Its Job

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President repeated his call for Republicans in the United States Senate to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote. It has been 45 days since President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. The President highlighted that Senate Republicans have said that Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity and impeccable qualifications. Despite this, most Senate Republicans refused to do their job and give Judge Garland the consideration he deserves. The President made clear that the Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics, and that’s why the President did his job in nominating Merrick Garland. Now, it’s time for the Senate to do its job.

Transcript: Weekly Address: It’s Time for the Senate To Do Its Job

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address, The White House, April 30, 2016

Hi, everybody. It’s now been 45 days since I nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity, and unimpeachable qualifications. Judge Garland is someone who Senate Republicans are on record saying is “a man of accomplishment and keen intellect;” a man who’s “honest and capable;” a man whose “reputation is beyond reproach.” Those are all quotes from Republicans in the Senate.

But so far, most Senate Republicans have refused to even meet with Judge Garland. Which means they’ve also refused to do their job and hold a hearing on his nomination, or an up-or-down vote. But they’ve still found time to head home for recess over the next week.

This is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility. Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. For over 40 years, there’s been an average of 67 days between a nomination and a hearing. This time should be no different. This is not about partisan politics – it’s about upholding the institutions that make our democracy work.

There’s a reason Judge Garland has earned the respect of people from both political parties. As a young lawyer, he left a lucrative private firm to work in public service. He went to oversee the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing. For the last 19 years, Judge Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit Court – often called “the Second Highest Court in the Land” – and for the past three years, he’s served as that court’s Chief Judge. In fact, Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. With a brilliant mind, a kind spirit, and a good heart, he has dedicated his life to protecting our rights, and ensuring that the voices of everyday Americans are heard.

So there is absolutely no reason for Republican Senators to deny him the basic courtesy of a hearing and a vote – the same courtesy that has been extended to others. This refusal to treat a Supreme Court nomination with the seriousness it deserves is what makes people so cynical about Washington. That’s why poll after poll shows a majority of Americans think Senate Republicans should do their job; give Judge Garland a hearing; and give Judge Garland a vote.

For all of our political differences, Americans understand that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. And in the middle of a volatile political season, it is more important than ever that we fulfill our duties – in good faith – as public servants. The Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics. I’ve done my job – I nominated someone as qualified as Merrick Garland. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their job. Give Judge Garland a hearing. Give Judge Garland an up-or-down vote. Treat him – and our democracy – with the respect they deserve.

Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. Professor POTUS on SCOTUS:

    At University of Chicago Law, President Obama explains why Senate Republicans must do their job and consider his Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland. Learn more: wh.gov/SCOTUS

  2. President Obama was at a “press conference” with college reporters on Thursday.

    (The president dropped in about 32 minutes into the presentation by White House press secretary Josh Earnest)

    Transcript: Remarks by the President to College Reporters

    President Obama on SCOTUS:

    While I have you here, I might as well mention a couple of other things. You may have heard that there is a Supreme Court vacancy. For those of you who have been studying our system of government, we have three branches, and one of the most important is the judiciary. And right now, our Supreme Court is absent one sitting member, with the passing of Justice Scalia. I’ve nominated an individual named Merrick Garland, who’s currently the Chief Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the second most important court in the land. By all accounts, he’s extremely well-qualified.

    And traditionally, what’s happened is, is that the Senate then, exercising its constitutional duties of advice and consent, will meet with the judge and then have a hearing for him, and then have a vote. In part because politics have gotten so polarized lately, and the importance of this seat, so far at least the Republican Leader on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell, has refused to have the Republican caucus meet with him and schedule an actual vote. Although, to their credit, there have been a number of Republicans who have broken ranks and gone ahead and met with Judge Garland.

    I mention this because I think it’s important for all of you, while you’re in town, and many of you who are going to end up being journalists covering important national policy, to recognize that our system only works when, even when we have big disagreements, even when there are big policy disputes, there’s still a willingness to follow the rules and treat people fairly — especially those who are on the other side of the debate. That’s something that’s been lost a little bit in this town of late.

    He also answered questions about immigration and addressed student loan debt,the cost of college and cynicism about the government and politics. He talks about gerrymandering and the right to vote.

    if you care about climate change, you care about college costs, you care about career opportunities, you care about war and peace and refugees, you can’t just complain. You’ve got to vote. And what’s interesting is, is young people as a voting bloc are the least likely to vote, but when you do vote, have the biggest impact on elections.

    During a presidential year, young people account for like 19 percent of the total vote. During an off-year election, when folks aren’t paying as much attention, they account for 12 percent. And that means that the kinds of candidates that get elected and the priorities that they reflect are entirely different, just based on whether or not you guys are going to the polls.

    So don’t let people tell you that what you do doesn’t matter. It does. Don’t give away your power.

  3. In the News: George Will does not like your “manners and grace“, Donald Trump!!

    Trump would be the most unpopular nominee ever, unable to even come close to Mitt Romney’s insufficient support among women, minorities and young people. In losing disastrously, Trump probably would create down-ballot carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the House. Ticket splitting is becoming rare in polarized America: In 2012, only 5.7 percent of voters supported a presidential candidate and a congressional candidate of opposite parties.

    At least half a dozen Republican senators seeking reelection and Senate aspirants can hope to win if the person at the top of the Republican ticket loses their state by, say, only four points, but not if he loses by 10. A Democratic Senate probably would guarantee a Supreme Court with a liberal cast for a generation.

    That works for me!!

    • For what it is worth, the Never Trump Wing of the Republican party is growing but no one is quite sure how they will react when confronted with the choice in November. Even Marco “Big Hands” Rubio is softening his position.

  4. In the News: The Supreme Court refused to stay the Texas Voter ID Law but gave the 5th Circuit a deadline …

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Friday to block Texas’ photo ID law, the strictest in the nation, from remaining in effect for now, but it left open the possibility of doing so this summer if a lower court challenge remains unresolved.

    Civil rights groups who say the law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters had argued that it should be blocked because it was struck down by a federal court in 2014 and a three-judge appeals court panel last year. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear the case next month.

    The justices said they would reconsider their decision on or after July 20 if the appeals court has not decided the case by then. That would give state election officials more than three months to prepare voters for the November elections.

    This is good news in that the stay has not been granted indefinitely and it leaves open the possibility that the law will be overturned in time for the November election.

  5. In the News: Senate Judiciary Committee also dragging its heels on the Voting Rights Act repair …

    The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have a message for their Republican counterparts, who are leading the blockade on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee: If you care so much about giving America a voice, give us a hearing on voting rights!

    The nine Democrats on the committee sent a letter Friday to its Republicans leaders — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chair of its subcommittee on the Constitution — demanding a hearing on voting rights, which the committee has not hosted since the GOP took over the Senate. They pointed to the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act and the electoral and legal chaos that has ensued since. But they also used the letter to call out the same Republicans for refusing to grant Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing.

    “It is ironic that Senate Republicans would claim to give the American people a voice, but at the same time allow sweeping voting restrictions to be enacted that would silence many of these Americans – a disproportionate number of whom are minorities,” the letter said.

    A reminder that the “subcommittee on the Constitution” was once called the “subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights” until the Republicans took over the Senate and “dropped the parts of the subcommittee name that don’t really matter or apply to anyone who matters”.

    We really really need to get the Senate back.

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