POLITICS
10/06/2016 07:10 pm ET

Supreme Court Refuses To Tell The Senate To Do Its Job, While Merrick Garland Just Waits

It's not really the court's job to intervene in this political fight.
Merrick Garland has been waiting for a Senate hearing longer than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Merrick Garland has been waiting for a Senate hearing longer than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.

WASHINGTON ― The Supreme Court got back to work this week, kicking off its new term issuing orders, hearing a handful of cases and going about its business as it normally does between now and the end of June. For good measure, one justice even name-dropped Kim Kardashian.

Yet lost amid this busyness was a little-noticed order in a petition that essentially asked the justices to force Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold a confirmation hearing on Merrick Garland, the president’s choice to fill the current vacancy on the high court.

As Bloomberg BNA’s Kimberly Robinson has explained, the petition never stood a chance ― because, well, if there’s a branch of the federal government that knows about the separation of powers, it’s the judiciary. The justices summarily denied it on Monday.

“The court has spoken and I can live with that,” said Daniel Rubin, the New Mexico lawyer who filed the petition in late June. He hadn’t heard about the denial when The Huffington Post reached out for comment.

Demonstrators urge members of the Senate to hold a confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Oct. 4
Zach Gibson via Getty Images
Demonstrators urge members of the Senate to hold a confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Oct. 4, 2016.

Rubin said he is not admitted to practice law before the high court, but that he was moved to draft his petition out of “a sense of injustice — a sense that the political system had overrun the intent of the Constitution.”

Though he wouldn’t say if he thought Garland was the best choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, he called him “a competent judge.” Since his nomination more than six months ago, Garland has set a record by waiting for Senate action longer than any other Supreme Court nominee.

“I would like the Senate to act on a pending nomination by a president instead of ignoring it,” Rubin said. “And I still hope they would do that. I don’t hold that much hope at this point.”

Congress is officially in recess until after the election, which means Garland’s only hope is that the Senate will move to confirm him during its lame-duck session before the next president takes office. 

Or that a future President Hillary Clinton renominates him ― which is an uncertain possibility at this point. The Republican Party seems intent on letting Donald Trump, someone who knows next to nothing about the rule of law, fill the vacancy.

Meanwhile, activists gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday hoped to make some noise for the stalled nomination. The same day, President Barack Obama penned an op-ed for The Huffington Post condemning the Senate’s inaction.

“Do your job! Do your job! Do your job” the activists chanted, holding placards listing the number of days Garland has been waiting for a hearing. As of Thursday, it’s been 204 days.

But even if you tried, you couldn’t hear them from inside the court’s marble courtroom.

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