Thursday, March 16, 2023

Washington, D.C. – In the wake of Senate Republicans’ refusal to grant then-Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or vote when he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016, followed by their rushed confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett right before the 2020 election, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today introduced the Every Supreme Court Nominee Deserves Timely Consideration Act. This legislation would ensure that the Senate does its job in giving every qualified Supreme Court nominee a timely and effective confirmation process, including guaranteeing that a minority of Senators can compel debate and vote on a nomination.

“The Supreme Court today has a huge impact on so many aspects of our lives—including whether our communities have clean air and water, whether workers have the right to organize, whether millions of Americans have reproductive freedom, and so much more,” said Senator Merkley. “In recent years, the Senate’s politically-motivated abuse of the confirmation process, in order to change the ideological makeup of the Court, has jeopardized the Court’s legitimacy. My bill will help restore trust and confidence in the confirmation process by ensuring that every qualified Supreme Court nominee receives timely consideration, including a vote. That is the advice and consent the Constitution requires and will allow the public to hold Senators accountable for confirming or blocking nominees.”

The Every Supreme Court Nominee Deserves Timely Consideration Act would mirror the Congressional Review Act process enabling 30 Senators to call for the discharge of a Supreme Court nomination from the Judiciary Committee after 60 days of inaction and compel debate and vote on a Supreme Court nomination. Additionally, this bill would:

  • Ensure, if the nomination is discharged, that the Senate immediately engages in 30 hours of debate on the nomination, balanced between those favoring and those opposing the nomination. Thirty Senators can extend debate for an additional 30 hours; and
  • Require a confirmation vote immediately following the conclusion of the debate.

This legislation is endorsed by Fix the Court, Common Cause, Free Law Project, and End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund.

“‘Advice and consent’ should not be a blank check that allows a Senate majority to ignore a Supreme Court nomination for as long as they like. But the unprecedented delay we saw in 2016 could easily happen again, so I’m pleased that Sen. Merkley has crafted a solution, reflective of existing Senate practices, that would circumvent future nomination shenanigans. I’m pleased to endorse the bill,” said Gabe Roth, Executive Director of Fix the Court.

“When a qualified, mainstream Supreme Court nominee is blocked from having a confirmation hearing, nevertheless an up-or-down vote, Americans are denied justice and cannot fully have their voices heard,” said Aaron Scherb, Senior Director of Legislative Affairs at Common Cause. “Common Cause appreciates Senator Merkley’s leadership for introducing the Every Supreme Court Nominee Deserves Timely Consideration Act, and we look forward to supporting continued efforts to reform the Supreme Court so it can protect the freedoms of all Americans, not just a select few.”

“The nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is one of many deeply impactful actions that a president can take during their tenure. The simple reform measures in this bill ensure that SCOTUS nominations are properly and efficiently vetted regardless of the party that controls the Senate Judiciary Committee. This eliminates opportunities for political games and restores a measure of fairness to the nomination process so that Americans of all stripes can have faith in how it proceeds,” said Mike Lissner, Executive Director of Free Law Project.

“Too often, Supreme Court nominees are caught in the middle of political gamesmanship and end up being used as pawns by both sides. It’s time-consuming and unproductive. This common-sense legislation will ensure a timely and due process for potential nominees. We thank Senator Merkley for his continued leadership on this issue, and look forward to passage of this legislation,” said End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund President Tiffany Muller.

Bill text can be found here.

A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found here.