Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court Nomination Just Made History

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Images.
On Wednesday, Merrick Garland hit an unenviable record: At 125 days since his March 16 nomination, he’s now the longest-waiting Supreme Court nominee to have been neither confirmed nor rejected. NBC News compiled the lengths of the longest-running Supreme Court confirmations, and pointed out that as of July 20, Garland has tied with former Justice Louis Brandeis for the longest wait for a Supreme Court nomination. Brandeis was confirmed to the court in 1916, after waiting more than four months. After him, the longest-running confirmation process is that of Robert Bork, who waited 114 days before he was rejected in 1987. For Garland, the wait is likely to be even longer — though he was nominated more than four months ago, Garland has not yet had a hearing before the Senate, the next step in the nomination process. The hearing has been held up by contention over President Obama’s appointment of an associate justice during his last year in office. Senate Republicans have refused to continue the confirmation process, saying that the new associate justice should instead be appointed by the winner of November’s presidential election. For his part, Obama has called the refusal to hold the hearing an “abdication of the Senate’s Constitutional duty.” Garland would fill the seat left absent by Antonin Scalia’s death in February of this year. As long as the seat remains empty, the eight-justice court is left open to the possibility of a tie, in which case a lower court’s ruling is upheld. The lack of a ninth justice has already had significant effects on American policy this year, after the court tied on a ruling on immigration reform, which would have prevented the deportations of millions of undocumented parents of citizens.

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