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Friday, March 18, 2016

US Senate must do their Constitutional job - vote on Judge Merrick Garland

"...Former colleagues also recalled that Mr. Garland insisted on doing the (Oklahoma) investigation by the book, like obtaining subpoenas even when phone and truck rental companies volunteered to simply hand over evidence, to avoid any future trial problems. He also made sure there was a prosecutor responsible for keeping victims and relatives informed about the case as it developed."- The Atlantic
Image result for photo attorney Stephen Jones
Attorney Stephen Jones supports qualifications of Judge Garland to serve on the US Supreme Court - quoted in The Atlantic

Certainly, it makes no sense for Republican US Senators to rudely ignore the nomination of qualified Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, when many of them meet with all sorts of other controversial people.  Somehow, Senator Mitch McConnell has lost his political way by leaping to the untenable conclusion that the American people must chime in on who the next Supreme Court justice should be, when the Constitution is clear about the issue in Article II Section II. 

Obviously, Senator McConnell, in defying the Constitution, by refusing to "advise and consent" the nomination of Judge Merrick made by President Obama, is putting himself above the law.

Judge Merrick is an American citizen who deserves the opportunity to meet with anybody in the US Senate. For example, if Judge Merrick wanted to meet Senator McConnell, for the purpose of discussing any issue related to the tragic Oklahoma domestic terrorism bombing on April 19, 1995, how would he be received? Obviously, the Oklahoma Republicans Senator Inofe and Senator Lankford would have something to say about such a meeting.

How Did the Oklahoma City Bombing Shape Merrick Garland?

President Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee called his work on the case “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”

In announcing his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court on Wednesday, President Obama made special mention of Garland’s work in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

“In the aftermath of that act of terror, when 168 people, many of them small children, were murdered, Merrick had one evening to say goodbye to his own young daughters before he boarded a plane to Oklahoma City,” Obama said. “And he would remain there for weeks. He worked side-by-side with first responders, rescue workers, local and federal law enforcement. He led the investigation and supervised the prosecution that brought Timothy McVeigh to justice. But perhaps most important is the way he did it. Throughout the process, Merrick took pains to do everything by the book.”

As the president noted, Garland has called his work there “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”

The April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, including 19 children. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil until September 11. Timothy McVeigh was ultimately convicted of the bombing and executed in 2001. Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole. A third man, Michael Fortier, testified against McVeigh and received a 12-year sentence for failing to warn the government about the planned attack.

What was Garland’s role in the case, how did it affect him, and does it offer any window into how a Justice Garland might approach the law?

At the time, Garland was principal associate deputy attorney general, a top aide to Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. 

When the bombing happened, Janet Reno’s Justice Department quickly took command of the case, sending Garland and Gorelick to Oklahoma, as Obama noted Wednesday. Garland was on the ground on April 21, two days after the bombing. “He not only volunteered,” Gorelick told The New York Times in 2010, “he basically said, ‘You need to let me go.’” 

But Garland’s direct work on the case was short-lived. Later that spring, he was promoted to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division and returned to Washington, replaced as lead prosecutor by Joseph Hartzler, but retaining a supervisory role from D.C. According to the Times, Gorelick rejected Garland’s request to directly try the case. Hartzler told Savage that Garland had not micromanaged him.

“I used him as a sounding board,” he said. “He didn’t tell me what to do, and he never made me feel as though I needed to consult him before making a decision. But I often consulted him because he gave such good advice.

Stephen Jones was the lead lawyer for McVeigh in the case. When I reached Jones on Wednesday, the first thing he told me was that he was “a partisan Republican. I’ve been a Republican since I was 12 years old.” (Jones was the GOP nominee for Senate in Oklahoma in 1990, but lost.) Then he proceeded to praise his former opposing counsel at length.

I agreed with everything the president said about Judge Garland,” Jones said, adding that he was encouraging the Sooner State’s two Republican senators to back Garland. “Personally he’s above reproach. He has integrity. He has the skills.

He remembered Garland as a responsive, humble, and meticulous prosecutor in the Oklahoma City case. “He certainly returned every phone call,” Jones said. “If he said he was going to get back in touch that afternoon, you could rest assured that by 5 o’clock he did that.” He said Garland would dial Jones directly and gave him his cell phone, rather than working through secretaries—a level of courtesy to be hoped for but not always met in officials at his level.

Although The Atlantic article is an in depth analysis of how Judge Garland performed in the Oklahoma bombing prosecution, the personal testimony of attorney Stephen Jones pretty much sums it all fact, the US Senate must now interview Judge Garland in compliance with their jobs defined in the Constitution....and vote! Otherwise, for the Senate to neglect their Constitutional duty, as Senator McConnell has decided, is irresponsibile and, in my unofficial mind, even illegal.

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