I took my first step into the world of political activism this week, joining other supporters of the #DoYourJob campaign in a demonstration and press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court.
It was overwhelming at first. I didn’t know what to expect; all I knew about press conferences was what I’d seen on TV. I thought the courthouse steps might be packed with the press and supporters, eager to hear senators and congressman talk about the need to fill the vacancy – now nearly nine months old – left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
So I was kind of relieved that only about 30 people were present. I was able to listen to the frustrations of the senators and former law clerks of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the court seat, with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s refusal to grant Garland a hearing or a vote.
It has now been 177 days since Judge Garland was nominated and there’s little sign he’ll get a hearing or a vote. We heard from some of the judge’s colleagues, former employees, and elected officials on why he’s qualified for the high court. No one has provided a good reason for the Senate’s refusal to act.
United under the banner of #DoYourJob, Common Cause and other groups are pushing the Senate’s Republican majority to stop playing politics and give Judge Garland a fair hearing and vote. The groups involved understand the importance of having a full bench. Some have endorsed Judge Garland; others simply argue that he at least deserves a fair hearing and an up or down vote.
A full bench with nine justices would be able to rule on cases and set precedents; the 4-4 ideological divide on today’s eight-member bench is creating a hodgepodge of lower court rulings, as different circuit and district judges reach different conclusions on similar cases. I hope our demonstration and press conference will help mobilize citizens to pressure their senators to do what we elected them to do: their job.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: More Democracy Reforms