“The Senate Judiciary Committee are doing their jobs,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the press at Wednesday’s briefing on the hill. In his opening statement, he praised congressional Democrats for holding a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Republicans have been stalling the vote, hoping to get a more conservative candidate on the bench after the November presidential election.
In his comments, Earnest pushed back at what he terms Republican obstructionism, using retired Judge Timothy Lewis’ testimony as proof Garland’s confirmation doesn’t have to be so complicated. Lewis, Earnest explained, was nominated in the fall of 1992 and was unanimously confirmed, just three weeks before the election.
“I am living proof that it doesn’t have to be this way,” the former judge said at Wednesday’s hearing.
That’s when Earnest launched a direct challenge at Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), one of Garland’s most vocal opponents, reminding him that he once praised Lewis for supporting a SCOTUS nominee with whom he didn’t jive politically. When conservative nominee Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2006, Lewis said he was an “intellectually honest” person and supported his candidacy, despite their ideological differences. Grassley found his testimony “compelling” at the time, Earnest noted.
“Today, we hope Grassley will be similarly compelled by Judge Lewis’ comments,” Earnest said.
Conservatives had a much different assessment of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Garland hearing on Wednesday. America Rising PAC, for instance, called it a “fake mock hearing” that will have “zero impact” on the real world.
Even the media has noted that Democrats are running out of options in their effort to speed Garland to the Supreme Court.