Peters urges Senate vote on ‘impeccable’ Garland

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters met Thursday with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland as part of the White House’s effort to pressure Senate Republicans into voting on the nomination during a heated presidential election.

The Bloomfield Township Democrat said Garland should be allowed to have a confirmation hearing by the Republican-controlled Senate because he has “impeccable” credentials for the post on the nation’s top court.

“He comes to this nomination with ... impeccable legal credentials,” Peters said. “On top of that, he has the benefit of already being confirmed for his current position with broad bipartisan support. So this is the type of candidate that certainly deserves to have a hearing.”

Senate Republicans have thus far refused to hold a hearing for Garland, who would replace conservative hero Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. They argue the choice should be made instead by the next president after voters have weighed in during the November election.

Democrats have accused Republicans of ignoring their constitutional responsibilities to consider the sitting president’s nominee.

Garland, chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has been meeting with mostly Democratic senators as part of the White House’s strategy to ratchet up pressure on Republicans to reverse course on his nomination.

Garland did not speak to reporters before or after his meeting with Peters, but the junior senator for Michigan said the Supreme Court nominee’s meetings with individual senators is not “a replacement for what needs to be a formal process that moves forward.

“The president has done his constitutional duty, which is to make a nomination to the Supreme Court with the vacancy, and now it’s time for the United States Senate to do our constitutional duty, which is to provide advice and consent and that means holding formal hearings,” he said.

Peters noted that Garland’s Supreme Court nomination has been left in limbo by the Senate for a longer amount of time than the entire nominations of most modern justices.

“Today’s an interesting day in that yesterday was the average length since 1975 before a nominee to the Supreme Court held hearings, so now we’re past the time of when the typical nominee would have received a hearing and be going through the process,” he said Thursday.

“We need to do this, this is something that’s backed by a majority of the American people,” Peters continued. “The American people believe we need to move forward; we need to have hearings. And then an up-and-down vote. however that vote may go, that’s part of the process.”

Garland met last week with Peters’ Michigan counterpart, Sen. Debbie Stabebow, D-Lansing, who pronounced the would-be Supreme Court justice “incredibly impressive” after a brief meeting in her office.

The senior senator from Michigan said she is “absolutely” planning to support Garland’s nomination if it is ever brought up for a vote in the Senate.

“I was inclined (to support Garland) before we met, and now I am 100 percent,” she said.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing