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What They're Saying in Florida about the Supreme Court Nomination

Leaders in Florida are speaking out and telling Senate Republicans to do their job.

Across the state, Floridians continue to speak out against Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job and give Judge Garland a hearing and vote. From business leaders to local newspapers, voices in Florida have sounded a disappointed tone in Senator Rubio’s decision to inject partisanship into the Supreme Court and in his refusal to carry out certain parts of his job for partisan gain. They have asked Senator Rubio to follow Senator Nelson’s lead, and support hearings and a vote for Judge Garland.

Gainesville Sun: Nominee should get a hearing (Editorial). “Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A former prosecutor with the Justice Department, Garland was appointed to the appeals court by President Clinton in the 1990s, enduring a lengthy Senate approval process.  He is so well qualified that no less an authority than GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch commended him. Even so, today’s Republican leadership is locked in obstruction mode.  A nominee can’t join the high court without the consent of the Senate, which is under Republican control. Top senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, continue to insist that the nomination should be left up to the next president — not Obama.  That stance is an insult to Obama and to voters, a majority of whom re-elected him in 2012 to a four-year — not a three-year — term.  Any Supreme Court nomination is significant, but filling the vacancy left by the unexpected death last month of pivotal Justice Antonin Scalia is especially consequential. The outcome could tip the ideological balance of the court, where several important cases are pending. The subjects range from abortion and voting rights to environmental and economic issues.”

Orlando Sentinel: Senate owes Garland full, fair hearing (Editorial). “In justifying his decision not to meet the nominee, McConnell has said the process should wait until a new president is elected. ‘Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy,’ he has argued.  Earth to McConnell: The American people have had a loud voice in this nomination. They have twice elected Obama — by comfortable margins. They've also elected senators, including Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio of Florida, to consider it.  McConnell and his allies have fallen back on what they call ‘the Biden rule,’ a 1992 statement from then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden that Supreme Court nominations shouldn't be considered during election years. That turned out to be only a hypothetical position. Regardless, it was as wrong then as McConnell is now.  Garland was confirmed for his current position with bipartisan support, including the votes of seven current Republican senators. But in the toxic nature of politics today, Republicans have set up a task force to orchestrate attack ads and petitions. Democrats plan counterattacks in swing states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Republican senators on this year's ballot could face political blowback for opposing hearings.”

Tampa Tribune: Senate misplays its hand (Editorial). “The GOP is taking a big gamble with its obstinacy. Should a Democrat be elected president, it is unlikely the nominee will be someone nearly as even-handed as Garland.  If McConnell and GOP senators want to block Obama’s nomination, they should have the courage of their convictions and vote this obviously qualified candidate down, which is their right. If not, they are going to come off looking like whiny obstructionists to Americans not blinded by partisanship.”

Herald Tribune: High court nominee deserves a hearing (Editorial). “One gets the sense of a republic at an inflection point; where it all leads is anyone’s guess. As the mood of resentment escalates, with punches thrown during some Trump rallies, it is more important than ever to have an above-the-fray Supreme Court, deciding key issues with reason, rationality and ‘comity,’ as Obama put it. Garland’s record suggests he is well suited for the critical role of judicial referee. Garland has indicated that he was deeply affected by one of his career milestones: successfully prosecuting the Americans (militia sympathizers) who killed 168 people in the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The episode was a tragic reminder of what happens when citizens take their political grievances in violent directions, rather than working within the system to improve it. It is a haunting but valuable perspective. Garland should get a chance to bring it to the nation’s highest court.” [FL Herald Tribune, 3/16/16]

Sun Sentinel: “Senate Should Give Supreme Court Nominee Fair Hearing (Editorial). “Republican U.S. Senate members were ready with their well-rehearsed line the moment President Obama announced Wednesday his highly qualified nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.  ‘It's not about the man,’ came their common refrain, ‘it's about the principle.’  The principle, quite simply, is they don't want Obama involved in replacing the late Antonin Scalia on the high court, even though the president's term runs almost another year.  GOP leaders would rather delay and let a possible President Donald Trump make that choice, no matter the frustration we all hear in the presidential campaign about the inability of Washington to get things done… Waiting another year to consider a Supreme Court justice is a dereliction of duty for the Senate. Right now, the court faces a 4-4 conservative-liberal split and a docket of divisive cases on immigration, affirmative action, unions, health care and abortion. Americans deserve decisions on key questions, not the chance they will have to be reargued when the bench is finally full.  Obama is asking for a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote on Garland.  Garland deserves it. Americans deserve it.”

Tampa Bay Times: U.S. Senate should hold hearings, vote on court pick (Editorial). “President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating an experienced, well-regarded appeals court judge to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now the Senate should do its job by holding hearings and voting on whether to confirm Judge Merrick Garland.  President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating an experienced, well-regarded appeals court judge to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now the Senate should do its job by holding hearings and voting on whether to confirm Judge Merrick Garland.  President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating an experienced, well-regarded appeals court judge to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now the Senate should do its job by holding hearings and voting on whether to confirm Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans who continue to act as obstructionists and ignore the president's nomination for political reasons are eroding public confidence in the legal system and abdicating their constitutional responsibility.  Obama chose carefully in nominating Garland, the widely respected chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the most important appellate court that hears disputes between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Garland is known as a well-qualified centrist, and the Senate confirmed his appointment to the appeals court in 1997 by a vote of 76-23 with 32 Republicans in support. The 63-year-old Illinois native grew up in humble surroundings and is a Harvard graduate, and his life experiences include being the federal prosecutor who led the investigation and prosecution after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.”

Felicia Bruce, CEO of Spirit Enterprises: “Vacancies, whether in business or government, need to be filled. A vacuum is created when they are not. Decisions that are indecisive serve no one well. Such is the case with SCOTUS. Besides setting a bad business model example, the lower court vacancies have already delayed justice and created a monumental backlog of cases. All of this compounds small business challenges such as mine.”                                                              

William von Zangenberg, CEO of Computerbility Software Trainers: “A vacancy on the Supreme Court has profound influence on laws that govern businesses in the United States. Leaving the judgeship empty is an atrocity to our system of law and should not be allowed. Make the Senate do their jobs.”

John Dohm, President of Florida Transatlantic Holdings, LLC: “I don't believe that a vacancy on the Supreme Court will affect my business of real estate directly, however it will further erode the confidence of investors from other countries who look to us as a model of the democratic process and governmental stability.”

Astrid F. Kowlessar, Director of Vezta Co.: “While it is very necessary for the U.S. Senate to have utmost discretion in the choice of a Supreme Court appointment, we need less division and more bipartisan support from our judicial system for the sake of social and business progress. Thus, we ask the U.S. Senate to give consideration to the President’s nomination of Merrick Garland.”

Millie Herrera, Owner and CEO of Miami Group: “The Constitution gives our President four-year terms with full authority to perform the duties required by the position. One of those duties is the appointment of Supreme Court justices when there is a vacancy. The Senate has a duty then to hold hearings and confirm or deny the nominee. Businesses need a stable social and economic climate in order to thrive. An unbalanced government creates instability, therefore it's in our best interest for the Senate to do its constitutional duty and leave partisan politics out, for the good of the nation and business stability."

Alexander Rahe, CEO and Partner of Solarize, LLC: “We need to ensure that every government body, including the Supreme Court, is fully functional all the time. We cannot delay the nomination, because the Supreme Court needs to be in the position to resolve issues. By the time they get cases it's normally been a long time already.”

Andrew Weinstein, Managing Partner at Weinstein Law Firm: “The Senate has a constitutional obligation to advise and consent. The refusal of certain Republican members to meet with the President's nominee, conduct fair hearings, and schedule an up-or-down vote is an affront to the citizens that elected them to serve. With more than 300 days remaining in the President's term there is plenty of time for the Senate to do its job.”

Marvin Scaff, CTO of myNFO: “Having been born in Kentucky, I am embarrassed by the behavior of Senator McConnell. Failing to grant a fair hearing to the nominee is unacceptable behavior, there are many important matters that are going to be brought in front of the court, the empty seat issue makes for uncertainty in the business climate not only domestically but internationally. This brinksmanship and holding the hearing hostage until the next POTUS is elected would be grounds for termination if the congressman had a real job and were able to be held accountable to his constituents."