Durbin Discusses Supreme Court Nominee at SIU Law

CARBONDALE – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke with students and faculty from the Southern Illinois University School of Law about the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Durbin met with Judge Garland in Washington last month and has repeatedly called on Senate Republicans to hold a hearing and a vote on the President’s nominee.

“It has been 48 days since Chief Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court, and 80 days since a vacancy on the Court arose with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. It is the Senate’s constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent when the President submits a Supreme Court nomination, but the Republican-controlled Senate is refusing to do its job. There is no precedent for this type of obstruction of a Supreme Court nominee,” Durbin said. “Judge Garland has spent decades in public service as a federal prosecutor and as a federal judge.  He has done his job, and done it extraordinarily well.  He, and the American people, deserve a Senate that will do its job too.”

In March, President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Lincolnwood. Judge Garland attended Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, from which he graduated as valedictorian. He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School before clerking on both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Supreme Court. In 1997, Judge Garland was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit seat vacated by his longtime mentor and fellow Chicagoan, Abner Mikva.


Before Judge Garland’s nomination was even announced, Senate Republicans announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will not hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee, and that senior Republican Senators will decline to meet with that nominee, as is customary.


Since the Senate Judiciary Committee started holding hearings on Supreme Court nominees a century ago, no pending Supreme Court nominee has ever been denied a hearing. In the past three decades it has taken the Senate an average of about two months to consider Supreme Court nominees from nomination to confirmation. The Senate has confirmed Justices in a presidential election year over a dozen times, most recently with the February 1988 confirmation of Justice Kennedy by a 97-0 vote.  Never before has a Supreme Court nominee been denied a hearing.


Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 18 years, during which time he has considered the nominations of four current Supreme Court justices. He is also the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, formerly known as the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over all constitutional issues.


In March, 43 law school deans across the country, including SIU Law’s Cynthia Fountaine, urged the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent with respect to the next Supreme Court nominee.