On March 16, 2016 President Obama made his third nomination to the Supreme Court, tapping Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to be the 113th Supreme Court Justice. Upon the announcement of Garland’s nomination, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center, said, “We welcome President Obama’s selection today of a nominee to fill the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. While we take no position on the nominee of Merrick Garland specifically, we look forward to learning more about his record and fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the nation.” Now that there is a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the review and confirmation process now moves over to the Senate and Merrick Garland’s nomination will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee holds hearings, which will explore Garland’s past experience and looks at how he would serve on the bench. It is then the Senate’s responsibility to vote on the nominee, so he can take his seat on the bench.
As we have done for the last four Supreme Court nominations, we have created a special web page to facilitate the Reform Movement’s involvement in this process—this means you! At www.AskMerrickGarland.com, you can suggest questions that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should ask Merrick Garland during his confirmation hearing. This is a great opportunity to make your voice heard and your Jewish values known. Take a moment to think about what you want to know about Merrick Garland, submit a question (or a few!), and forward the site to friends, colleagues, and fellow congregants who might want to know more about our newest Supreme Court nominee’s stances on the issues of importance to them. We will compile a list of these questions and send a selection of them along to the Committee members to ensure that the questions being asked reflect the issues of concern and importance to Reform Jews and Americans. Jewish tradition teaches that as Moses was setting up the Jewish people’s first judicial system, those appointed were to “judge the people at all seasons” (Exodus 18:22). This lesson in the importance of a fully functioning judicial body inspires our belief that a delay in filling the open Supreme Court seat would inhibit the delivery of justice and undermine our nation’s judicial system overall. The work of the Court is vital to the application of justice in our nation and to the preservation of the values that the Reform Movement supports. The judiciary has a powerful and lasting impact on the issues that the religious community cares about, including but not limited to the preservation of civil liberties and civil rights, protection of the environment, freedom of choice and speech, and freedom from imposed religion. Judges and justices granted lifetime appointments to the federal bench have the ability to either safeguard or erode these rights over the many years they serve. We cannot afford to remain on the sidelines of the debate over this nomination. What hangs in the balance is nothing less than the future resolution of today’s fierce policy debates over nearly every issue on our Jewish communal agenda. So, take a moment to participate in the vital process of reviewing Merrick Garland’s record. Submit your questions now to www.askMerrickGarland.com. To watch the video of President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, visit the White House’s webpage. For more information on the judicial nominations process and how you can have an impact, read the Religious Action Center's one-pager on the judicial nominations process. To learn more about the Supreme Court and judicial nominations, visit the RAC's judicial issues page. This post originally appeared on the RAC Blog