Chief judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ ALM MEDIA)
A long-shot effort to force U.S. Senate action on the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland failed Monday at the hands of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
Roberts, without comment, denied a New Mexico lawyer’s emergency application for an injunction in Michel v. McConnell.
The lawyer, Steven Michel of Santa Fe, had asked the high court to order the Senate to schedule a full vote on the Garland nomination before the end of President Barack Obama’s term on Jan. 20.
Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was nominated on March 16. His nomination has been pending longer than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.
Garland, who sat out participating in oral arguments while his nomination was pending, is set to appear on Jan. 18 for the first time in months, according to the D.C. Circuit’s calendar, which was updated Monday. The court that morning will hear a dispute over access to court records related to MetLife Inc.’s challenge to its designation as a “systemically important financial institution.”
Michel, whose legal efforts on behalf of Garland failed for lack of standing in the district court and in the D.C. Circuit, had argued that the Senate’s obstruction “deprived me of my right as a voter, under the 17th Amendment, to have my elected senators participate with ‘one vote’ in deciding whether to consent to Merrick Garland’s nomination.”
That deprivation, Michel argued, diminished the effectiveness of his vote for his senators, “an injury long recognized as sufficient to provide Article III standing.”
Roberts, who is circuit justice for the D.C. Circuit, did not refer the application to the full court. He acted on his own authority.
“Asking Chief Justice Roberts to require a Senate vote on the Garland nomination was an extraordinary request. So although I’m disappointed by his refusal, I’m not surprised,” Michel said Monday. “The Senate’s judicial confirmation process is broken. I hope it can be fixed before too long, because our democracy depends on it.”
President-elect Donald Trump is reviewing a list of 21 candidates for the Supreme Court. His incoming chief of staff said last week that Trump is expected to announce his nominee around the time of the inauguration next month.
Michel’s petition is posted below.
Update: This story was updated with comment from Michel.