Today, HRC released the following statement on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Americans deserve a full Supreme Court bench, and President Obama's nominee deserves a hearing. There is no doubt that Merrick Garland is a highly qualified candidate, and the Senate has a Constitutional responsibility to give him swift and fair consideration,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The Supreme Court has a sacred responsibility to uphold the rights of all citizens, and we must hold accountable any politicians who tamper with our nation’s highest court for their own gain.”
Judge Garland has served on the federal bench and in public service for almost 25 years. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and currently serves as the Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After graduating from Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Judge Garland served as a judicial clerk for Judge Henry Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. HRC will continue examining the record of Judge Garland on issues affecting the LGBT community. Moreover, we look forward to the Senate’s thorough examination of his judicial philosophy and record.
The decisions made by the Supreme Court establish important legal precedents that impact the daily lives of all Americans, including those who are LGBT. This year alone, the Court is expected to rule on many critical issues: including affirmative action, immigration, religious refusals and abortion rights--and the American people deserve a fully-functioning Court with nine justices seated and considering cases before it.
Over the past 25 years, the LGBT community in particular has benefited from groundbreaking decisions from the court, including Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges--the latter of which ushered in nationwide marriage equality last June. Notably, each ruling was decided by a razor-thin margin of just one vote. While each has bettered the lives of millions of Americans, during that same time there have been tremendously disappointing rulings, such as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Shelby County v. Holder, that have been both far-reaching and harmful to a great many more people across our country.
President Obama’s incredible legacy of achievement on LGBT equality remains unmatched in our country’s history. Not only has he appointed two pro-equality Associate Justices to the Supreme Court--Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan--but he’s also named a record 10 openly LGBT judges to the federal bench. HRC fully hopes that in Judge Garland, we will find another well-qualified justice who will uphold the Constitution and rule fairly on issues important to the LGBT community.
Last month HRC joined a broad coalition of 82 organizations in condemning Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their unprecedented obstruction of the U.S. Supreme Court nomination process. On the day of Justice Scalia’s death, Republican leadership announced that they would shirk their responsibility by not even holding a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. The Republican National Committee has also launched a special task force dedicated to blocking any efforts to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.
On Monday, March 21, HRC will be participating in the #DoYourJob National Day of Action along with allied advocacy organizations, to put public pressure on and demand action from key Senate Republicans who have refused to uphold Article II of the U.S. Constitution.