Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders praised President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on Wednesday and denounced the partisan response that has surrounded the court vacancy.
“Evaluating and confirming a Justice to sit on this nation’s highest court should not be an exercise in political brinkmanship and partisan posturing,” Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday, calling Garland a “brilliant legal mind.”
“It is a serious obligation, performed on behalf of the American people, to ensure a highly qualified candidate fills a vacancy on the Court. That obligation does not depend on the party affiliation of a sitting president, nor does the Constitution make an exception to that duty in an election year.”
After the nomination was announced Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, would not consider a nominee from Obama, continuing to argue that the next president should be the one to nominate someone to the seat left vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Vermont Sen. Sanders praised Garland as a “strong nominee” and called on Grassley to hold confirmation hearings.
“My Republican colleagues have called Judge Garland a ‘consensus nominee’ and said that there is ‘no question’ he could be confirmed,” he said in a statement. “Refusing to hold hearings on the president’s nominee would be unprecedented. President Obama has done his job. It’s time for Republicans to do theirs.”
While they haven’t yet publicly commented on Garland’s nomination, all three remaining Republican presidential candidates have previously said the next president should have the responsibility of making the Supreme Court appointment.