Challenge U.S. Senator Blunt to ‘do your job’
Following President Barack Obama’s recent nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel are calling on U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and the entire U.S. Senate to uphold their Constitutional obligation to “advise and consent” by holding hearings and vote on the appointment.
Blunt has been a leader in refusing to consider Obama’s nominee, stating in a Twitter post in February “The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.”
Last week, shortly after Obama nominated Garland, Blunt issued a carefully worded statement: “The president has every right to nominate someone, and the Senate has the Constitutional responsibility to decide if it’s the right person at the right time. I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court.”
That last line, “I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court,” was repeated by Blunt in a tweet before Garland even had a chance to speak at the announcement of his nomination.
Louis and Chapel held a joint conference call with the media following the announcement.
“Senator Blunt might not like it, but Barack Obama is still the President and the Constitution says it’s his job to now fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and the Senate’s job to give Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote,” Louis said. “That’s your job, so do it. Obviously we wouldn’t be hearing these same arguments from Senator Blunt if Mitt Romney were President today.”
FOLLOWING THE PARTY LINE
Blunt is following the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who first raised the specter of holding the Supreme Court vacancy hostage following the death in February of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
“It’s funny how these same Republicans often claim their principles are guided by a strict adherence to the Constitution, but apparently all that goes out the window when they feel their radical right wing agenda is at risk,” Louis said
If the high court is left in limbo, a new justice would not be confirmed until sometime in 2017.
“It’s pretty shameful that we even have to hold this call today to ask Senator Blunt to fulfill one of his most fundamental duties as a United States Senator,” Chapel said. “But we are here to send a clear message to Senator Blunt: the people of our state elected you to do a job, and we expect you to do that job and fill the Supreme Court vacancy.”
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Chapel noted that Garland, who currently serves as the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – widely regarded as the second most important court in the nation – is unquestionably qualified for the job.
“This is someone who deserves a fair hearing – and someone who deserves a timely up-or-down vote,” Chapel said.
“Most people in Missouri don’t have jobs where we get to pick and choose which parts we like to do and blow off the rest while still collecting our paycheck,” Chapel said. “But Senator Blunt somehow got the impression that he gets to blow off his responsibilities on the taxpayers’ dime. If the Senator has better stuff to do, why doesn’t he just retire now and move over for someone who is willing to show up to work. We are organized here in the state and have already started sending Senator Blunt a clear message – we expect you to do your job.”
Blunt, who faces a challenge in the general election from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, might want to pay attention to recent polls conducted after Republicans announced their scheme to reject President Obama’s nominee before he was even named.
A recent CNN poll found 58 percent of voters, including 59 percent of Independents, wanted President Obama to nominate someone to fill the vacancy, compared to just 41 percent who think the next President should. The same poll found 66 percent of voters, including 69 percent of Independents, wanted the Republican leadership to hold hearings for the nominee.
Here in Missouri, a recent Public Policy Polling survey found that 56 percent – a strong majority – want the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled. The same poll found voters by a 34-point margin in Missouri say that they’re less likely to vote for Senator Blunt this fall if he refuses to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court no matter who it is. Independents were particularly adamant, by a 55 to 22 percent margin that they’re less likely to vote for Blunt.
“Senator Blunt is playing with political dynamite by denying this clearly qualified nominee a fair hearing and timely up-or-down vote,” Louis said. “The people of Missouri expect him to do the job he was hired to do—and part of that is giving Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote.”
Kander issued the following statement: “Judge Merrick Garland should receive a hearing as soon as practical so the Senate can determine if he is qualified to fill the vital opening on the Supreme Court. Missourians have spoken loud and clear that they want the Senate to do its job by vetting the nominee and taking a vote based on qualifications, not politics. As the vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Senator Blunt should be a leader in ensuring his caucus fulfills its constitutional duty.”