The questionnaire details issues Garland's employment record, opinions, published writings and public speeches
This is the latest move from Garland supporters to maintain momentum on his stalled nomination
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland provided the Senate with the most thorough overview to date of his judicial qualifications on Tuesday, despite Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider his nomination in the months before the presidential election.
Under normal circumstances, the Senate Judiciary Committee asks a nominee to complete a questionnaire. But because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the committee’s objection to holding a hearing, the White House volunteered to send one on its own. It is the latest move from Garland supporters to maintain momentum on his stalled nomination.
The 142-page questionnaire details issues such as Garland’s employment record, opinions, published writings and public speeches.
He also reveals that he was first called on February 29 – 16 days after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia – by White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to “ask whether I was willing to be considered for nomination” to the Supreme Court. President Barack Obama called him on March 14 to say “he intended to nominate me to the Supreme Court,” Garland wrote.
Garland, who currently serves as the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, details that he hasn’t played a political role in a campaign since he volunteered for presidential candidates Bill Clinton in October 1992, Michael Dukakis in October 1988 and Walter Mondale in 1983 and 1984.
One question asks him to describe the “most significant litigated matters” he handled when he served at the Justice Department from 1993-1997 before becoming a judge. He lists the fact that he was the supervising attorney for the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, as well as the prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
The questionnaire includes a 16-page list of opinions that he has authored for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Of the “10 most significant” cases in which he wrote an opinion, he lists a Freedom of Information case demanding records held by the CIA pertaining to drone strikes. A lower court ruled in favor of the CIA’s refusal to confirm or deny that it had such records, and Garland’s court reversed, “holding that in light of public statements by a number of high-level government officials, the CIA’s disclosure of whether it had records on the subject would not plausibly reveal anything not already officially acknowledged,” Garland said.
The questionnaire was posted on the Judiciary Committee’s website.
“The questionnaire and associated materials present an exhaustive picture of Judge Garland’s distinguished career and impeccable credentials as a nominee to the Supreme Court,” Brandi Hoffine, a White House spokeswoman, said before the release. “We expect that upon receiving the questionnaire, Senate Judiciary Committee members will do their jobs by reviewing the information, noticing a hearing so that the American people can hear directly from Chief Judge Garland as he answers questions under oath, and giving him a fair up-or-down vote.”
On Monday, a spokeswoman for Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said the questionnaire would be posted and pushed back on the Democrats’ refrain that the Senate was failing to “do its job” by refusing to hold hearings.
“The White House should know that this week alone, the committee will be at work holding hearings on national security issues and privacy rules and considering several bills,” Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine said.
Garland is set to meet with Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson Tuesday, as well as Democrat Brian Schatz of Hawaii. He has so far met with 46 senators, including 14 Republicans.
Last month, Obama visited the University of Chicago to discuss Garland’s nomination and called him “indisputably qualified to serve on the highest court in the land.”
“If the question is qualifications and excellence, it is uniformly viewed by not just Democrats but also Republicans, those who have served – lawyers, judges, legal scholars, members of the current Supreme Court – that he is as good of a judge as we have in this country right now,” the President said.