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Supreme Court: Open Letter to Senator Murkowski

I write to express my continued dismay at your continued rejection of considering ANY Supreme Court appointment of President Obama’s.

I read your statement at http://www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/3/murkowski-statement-on-u-s-supreme-court-nominee but remain unconvinced that you and your party are acting in the interest of the nation by refusing to act on the President’s nomination. You cite then Senator Biden’s statement on nominations in an election year as support, but as documented by Politifact, Senator Biden spoke within a few weeks of the Democratic Convention AND stated that President Bush did have the right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice the day after the election. He never suggested, as your party does, that such a choice should be left to the “next administration.”

By the way, I think that Senator Biden was as wrong then as you are now. Had a vacancy come up at the time, I would have urged the Senate to do then what I’m asking you and your party to do now – hold hearings and have an up or down vote. If the candidate was unworthy, reject them.

Back in 1997, your father voted to give Judge Garland a lifetime appointment to the DC Circuit of Appeals, considered by some to be the nation’s second most powerful court. You can find his “Yea” vote at http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=105&session=1&vote=00034. Has your father changed your opinion of Judge Garland? If so, what changed? If not, why do you seem to trust Senator McConnell’s judgment more than your own father’s?

I believe that your attitude not only harms the country but your own party and donor class in at least three ways:

  1. Republican control of the Senate is threatened. Whether or not the majority of Alaskans support your position, voters in states with vulnerable Republican Senators favor acting on the President’s nominee. They say that your refusal to have a vote on the President’s nominee will make them less likely to vote for their Senator. Is blocking the Presidents nominee worth going to minority status?
  2. If your effort to limit a President’s appointment power to the first three years of their term succeeds, you can count on the Democrats throwing your words in your face if something similar happens in the last year of a Republican President’s term. They will enforce your own views either by having a majority or through filibuster. Unless you remove the filibuster — which I heartily recommend should you retain control of the Senate in 2017.
  3. Whether Trump or Clinton gets elected President, you are unlikely to get a nominee as acceptable to you as President Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland. You may dream of confirming Judge Garland in a lame duck session, but if Clinton wins, some Democrats will almost certainly filibuster him, using your own words of “Let the next President make her own nomination” against you.

As I stated in my last letter to you on this subject, when I say “take action” I do not say “confirm” even though I do support Judge Garland’s appointment. I mean that you should urge your leadership and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings followed by an up or down vote. If you don’t believe that Judge Garland should not be on the Supreme Court, vote him down and wait for the next nominee. That is a legitimate exercise of the Senate’s power of advise and consent. It’s an exercise contemplated and expected by the Founders. I can’t believe that they intended the Senate to take no action at all — though if you have documentation to the contrary please send it to me and I will read through it.

Please do your constitutional duty. Hold hearings on Judge Garland. Give him an up or down vote.

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