In Depth: Rep. Conyers’ resolution states that confirmations in presidential election years are not unheard of: There have been six since 1900, according to the Congressional Research Service. He also points out that in 1988, a Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s election-year nomination of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The resolution also states that no Supreme Court nominee has ever waited more than 125 days before a final floor vote, yet the Senate Republicans’ current stall could leave Garland waiting more than 300 days.
Of Note: In his remarks introducing Garland, President Obama stressed the judge’s reputation as a moderate who works well with his fellow judges on the D.C. Circuit. He quoted prominent Republicans who have praised the judge in the past, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who once called Garland a “consensus nominee” for the Supreme Court who “would be very well supported by all sides” if nominated.
Hatch signed the February letter promising to block any Obama nominees.
Obama asked Senate Republicans to give Garland a fair hearing, stating:
“If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.”
However, Republicans have pointed to Article II, Section 2
of the Constitution, which discusses the role of the Senate in Supreme Court nominations but doesn't require action by the Senate.
As Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said
“The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give the
Presidential nominees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with
the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying
every nominee receives a vote.”
While some Senate Republicans have agreed to meet with Garland
individually, the Judiciary Committee and other Republicans have remained firm in opposing a nomination
so as to let the American people have their say in the presidential election:
"As we write, we are in the midst of a great national debate over the
course our country will take in the coming years. The Presidential
election is well underway. Americans have already begun to cast their
votes... the American people are presented with an
exceedingly rare opportunity to decide, in a very real and concrete way,
the direction the Court will take over the next generation. We believe
The People should have this opportunity."