WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“One of the most important responsibilities of a United States Senator is to provide ‘advice and consent’ on the president’s judicial nominees. I take seriously my responsibility to determine the best way to offer my ‘advice and consent’ regarding nominations to our nation’s highest court.
“The current vacancy has arisen in the middle of a highly contentious presidential election process and filling this vacancy will fundamentally alter the Supreme Court’s direction for generations. These are rare circumstances, as the last time the Senate confirmed a nominee in a similar situation was 128 years ago.
“Based on these unique circumstances and the precedent established by Democratic leadership including Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, the right thing to do is to give the American people a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. The next president, with input from voters in the upcoming election, should fill the current Supreme Court vacancy.”
The last time a Supreme Court justice was nominated to the Court in a presidential election year and confirmed by a Senate controlled by the opposing party was 1888, when President Grover Cleveland nominated Justice Melville Fuller to be Chief Justice.
In 1992, then-Senator Joe Biden, said, “Can our Supreme Court nomination and confirmation processes, so racked by discord and bitterness, be repaired in a Presidential election year? History teaches us that this is extremely unlikely. It is my view that if the President…presses an election-year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over…President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not–and not–name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”
In 2005, Senator Harry Reid 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 Presidential appointees a vote.”
In 2007, Senator Chuck Schumer said, “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation [for justices]. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. …[W]ith respect to the Supreme Court, at least, I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.”