It has now been 42 days since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, yet the Senate Republican leadership is continuing to show an utter disregard for its constitutional duty to give him a fair hearing and a timely vote. Yesterday, LCV joined Senators Barbara Boxer, Martin Heinrich, Brian Schatz, Ed Markey, Van Jones, Founder of Green for All, NextGen Action, and Clean Water Action to call on the Senate Republican leadership to do its job. LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld delivered the following remarks:
I’m honored to be here today with Senators Boxer, Heinrich, Markey, and Schatz — all of whom are tremendous environmental champions — as well as my colleagues from other environmental organizations as we call on the Senate Republican leadership to do its job.
We’ve just had the best eight months ever in the fight against climate change — from the finalization of the Clean Power Plan in August to the rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November to the historic Paris climate agreement in December to the pause on new coal leasing on federal lands in January to the protection of the Atlantic coast from offshore drilling plan in March and so much more.
But we also felt the impact of the judiciary in February when the Supreme Court put an unprecedented temporary stay on the Clean Power Plan just days before Justice Scalia died. The courts play a significant role in the lives of everyday Americans, including our right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and leave our children a healthy planet. And of course the Supreme Court can have a major impact on polluter money in politics and voting rights.
We applaud President Obama for fulfilling his constitutional obligation to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia, and we believe that Merrick Garland has impeccable qualifications and will be a welcome addition to the highest court in the land. Senators now have a constitutional duty to fulfill, and it’s long past time for Senator McConnell, Senator Grassley and other Republican senators to stop obstructing and do their job. They are playing partisan politics at its very worst and have sunk to a new low with their extreme and unprecedented obstruction.
Polls show that the American people strongly believe the Senate must give the president’s nominee both a fair hearing and a timely vote, and LCV members couldn’t agree more. Nearly 150,000 of them have signed a petition calling on the Senate to do its job, and many of them have attended events across the country, including in Iowa and Wisconsin targeting Senators Grassley and Johnson.
There is clearly a well-funded and radical opposition hell-bent on ensuring that obstructionists stay the course, but we will continue to engage in this Supreme Court vacancy fight in a far bigger way than ever before because the stakes have never been higher. Thank you and now I’ll turn it to a true environmental champion, Senator Boxer!