RALEIGH — An association of 35 African-American and Native American state lawmakers is urging U.S. senators to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
The North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus has formally asked Republican Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to help ensure a fair nomination process for Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Garland will not receive confirmation hearings, as many Republican elected officials believe Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the high court should be chosen by the next president. Garland is widely seen as a moderate and the federal judge has received past praise from both Democrats and Republicans.
“Sen. Tillis and Sen. Burr owe it to the voters of North Carolina to ensure that Judge Garland receives both a fair hearing and then an up and down vote for confirmation to the United States Supreme Court,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. “This type of partisan gridlock is why more and more voters are losing faith in their elected officials. In 2012, the American people re-elected President Obama to a four-year term, not a three-year term. He should be allowed to carry out the constitutional duties of his office.”
Pierce, D-Scotland, represents Richmond, Scotland, Robeson and Hoke counties in House District 48 and is running unopposed for a seventh term in the General Assembly.
The caucus called Garland “a distinguished jurist whose strong record and dedication to public service makes him a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court.”
Garland has previously served as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan; he served as deputy attorney general in the Justice Department and he was confirmed to his current post on a 76-23 bipartisan vote, black legislative leaders said in a Monday statement.
Garland led the investigation and prosecution that brought Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to justice.
“The caucus has worked with the White House on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to job creation and education to various quality-of-life issues,” the group’s news release states. “We feel strongly that few things are more critically important to quality-of-life than having a fully functional and fair justice system in our country. Our request that the Senate proceed with a fair hearing for Judge Garland is part of our collective work to improve the lives of constituents in our districts and throughout our country.
“We expect our senators to proceed with a fair hearing for Judge Garland because that is what the Constitution dictates, and what our constituents and all Americans deserve from their leaders.”
The Monday release included the #DoYourJob hashtag that supporters of confirmation hearings are using on social media to ratchet up public pressure on Republican Senate leaders. It also quotes Obama as saying, “Presidents don’t stop working in the final year of their term; neither should a senator.”
The N.C. Legislative Black Caucus is an unincorporated association of senators and representatives of African-American and Native American heritage. Its primary purpose is to operate as a vehicle through which blacks and people of color in North Carolina can exercise their political power in a unified manner.