We all have a job to do

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, President Obama announced Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the passing of Justice Scalia.

The president has done his job, and now it’s time that we in the Senate do ours.

As the Senate moves forward with the nomination process, I believe we should look toward Delaware for inspiration. 

Before coming to the Senate, I was privileged to serve as our state’s governor. In that role, I nominated dozens of men and women to serve as judges in our courts – including Delaware’s Supreme Court, Court of Chancery, Superior Court, and Family Court. During my eight years as governor, the state legislature never failed to consider a single nomination. Not one. Our state senate did its job. They handled nominations thoughtfully and promptly – all nominations were given up or down votes. The idea of allowing a vacancy on any court – much less our highest court – for over a year would never pass muster in Delaware, nor should it in Washington.

A few weeks ago I delivered a speech in front of the Sussex County Superior Court in Georgetown urging my Senate colleagues not to delay the process of filling Justice Scalia’s seat. I was joined by Alan Garfield, a professor of law at Widener University Delaware Law School, who so eloquently said, “politicians can use their power to create gridlock in the system. But certainly, if you ask what’s best for the country, what’s best for the country is for everyone to exercise their power in good faith.” Professor Garfield could not be more correct.

I am disappointed by the insistence of some of my colleagues in the Senate that we should leave this Supreme Court seat vacant until a new president is sworn in. This is unprecedented in our nation’s history. Each of us has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution – some of us many times over – and any abdication of this duty is a failure to serve the Ameri

can people as we’ve been elected to do. The right and just way to proceed is to begin consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination right away, first in committee and then on the Senate floor. Each of us has a duty to cast our vote, and we should be given the opportunity to uphold it.