WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Schumer is doing everything he can to put federal Appellate Court Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court — even arranging a photo op of him Tuesday morning with the high court’s building in the background.
Garland, 63, chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court, appears to be a moderate jurist with all the right educational and legal credentials, and a record of taking a restrained approach to cases, but he’s in the midst of partisan warring between Senate Democrats and Republicans
Before President Barack Obama even nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Obama should not select the next justice, and that the next president should to give voters a voice in the process.
Schumer, New York’s senior senator who is in line to be Senate Democratic leader next year, met with Garland Tuesday morning for about a half an hour, and Schumer said they discussed Garland’s philosophy of judging and even reminisced about their days at Harvard Law.
“It’s crystal clear that after talking to him that Judge Garland has both a brilliant legal mind and a heart of gold,” Schumer told reporters at a news conference following the meeting.
“Judge Garland knows the law. He understands the law. He will interpret the law fairly,” Schumer said. “I have every confidence that he will look at the cases before him and judge on the law.”
Schumer also linked his own experience as a New Yorker during the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, and Garland’s role as lead prosecutor of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh in the deadly bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Schumer said that having someone on the Supreme Court who understands the issues of terrorism and understands its human effects would be very comforting.
Schumer then turned his attention to the political battle.
McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said they would not hold a confirmation hearing or a Senate vote on any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama, and even said Republican senators should not meet with Garland.
But Schumer said 12 Senate Republicans said they will meet with him, and another 33 have not said what they will do.
“As this process moves forward, Sen. McConnell is going to find himself increasingly isolated in his obstruction,” Schumer said. “The only people he will have in his corner are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.”
Those are the two top GOP presidential candidates, who could get to pick the new justice should McConnell succeed in blocking Garland and one of them wins the presidency.