One-on-one with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland

Almost three years ago, moments before I swore my oath to serve as New Jersey’s junior Senator, my mother pulled me aside in a hallway of the Capitol building and stated frankly and firmly, “Always remember why you came down here and who sent you.”

I am fortunate to represent so many hardworking New Jerseyans in the United States Senate. I made a promise to my constituents when I took that oath to protect and defend our Constitution and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of my office.

Yesterday, I did one small aspect of the job I was elected to do — the job I swore an oath to do — by meeting with Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In our meeting, I learned more about how Chief Judge Garland has devoted his life not just to public service, but to his family and his community.

I was familiar with Chief Judge Garland’s exemplary qualifications before our meeting — I knew, for example, that he has more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in history. But from firsthand experience, I can now say that Chief Judge Garland’s legal aptitude and dedication to service are more than just points on his resume — they are evident in who he is as a person.

I found Chief Judge Garland to be a man whose work ethic and strength of character drive his commitment to the rule of law, a man who is a proud and loving husband and father, a man who is deeply involved in his community, and a man who has extraordinary love for his country. Chief Judge Garland clearly understands how the decisions made by federal courts, especially the nation’s highest court, affect everyday American families.

I learned this in a one-on-one meeting. I hope that those of my colleagues who are insisting upon obstructionism change course and move forward with a confirmation hearing so that the American people also have the opportunity to learn more about Chief Judge Garland.

Chief Judge Garland deserves a respectful and dignified confirmation process befitting historical and constitutional precedent. He deserves a hearing and he deserves an up-or-down vote.

Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution clearly states that it’s the Senate’s duty to provide “advice and consent” on the president’s Supreme Court nominees — there is no addendum that excuses that duty in a presidential election year.

After meeting with Chief Judge Garland, I believe more than ever that we must promptly schedule a hearing and a vote on his nomination.

Failure to do so would violate not only the oath of office each of my fellow senators took, but the vital trust hardworking Americans have placed in us to do our jobs.

To those who wish to block Chief Judge Garland’s nomination, to defy historical and constitutional precedent, and deny the American people the service they deserve, I offer this reminder from someone far wiser than I: “Remember why you came down here and who sent you.”