Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Herb Brown sees a connection between the voter anger feeding Donald Trump’s campaign and Senate Republicans’ ongoing efforts to not hold confirmation hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
“People want a government that works for them,’’ Brown told a Tuesday news conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court. “Refusal to hold a hearing and refusal to advise and consent on this man not only violates the Constitution, they also feed public distrust in the government.”
Justice Brown joined leaders from six other states who attempted to meet with Senators who argue that the next president – not President Obama – should fill the court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Neither Senator Portman nor any member of his staff agreed to a meeting – even with an 84-year-old former Justice who is also an accomplished author and playwright.
In addition to Justice Brown, the Ohio contingent included ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis and Cincinnati native Dorian Spence, counsel to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.
“I was disappointed that no one from Senator Portman’s staff could make time for the Senator’s constituents,’’ Theis said. “We met with Senator Sherrod Brown and his staff, then dropped by unannounced to Senator Portman’s office. Kevin Smith, who is on the press staff, met with us in the reception area. He was clearly annoyed by our visit.’’
Justice Brown informed Smith and that he and Senator Portman attended University of Michigan’s law school and said that the Rob Portman he knows probably disagrees with efforts to block anyone President Obama nominates.
He called Garland “remarkably qualified’’ and reminded Portman’s staffer that Senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“The US Constitution sets the requirements for filling vacancies on the US Supreme Court. The President nominates; the Senate gives advice and consent,’’ Justice Brown said. “The President did this by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, whose intellect and knowledge of the law are not in question and who has been highly praised by both Republicans and Democrats. The obstruction and politicization of this process do irreparable damage to the ability of the Court to fulfill its Constitutional function.’’
The Portman staffer said he would pass on Justice Brown’s concerns but said “the Senator is hearing equally from both sides.’’
Senator Portman has set an April 24 meeting with Judge Garland but said he plans to use the meeting to explain why he does not support confirmation hearings.