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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Legal Scholars Urge Senate to Follow Regular Order with SCOTUS Vacancy


Yesterday, constitutional scholars and legal experts hosted a telephonic press conference to urge the Senate and their own senators to give a fair hearing and a timely vote to the forthcoming Supreme Court nomination.  

The call came just as a coalition of 33 leading constitutional scholars, organized by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, sent an open letter to President Obama and the U.S. Senate leadership urging them to fulfill their constitutional duties with regard to the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Click here to listen to an MP3 of the call.

Quotes from the call’s participants are below:

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law

“In 21 of 24 instances where Presidents have nominated Justices in their final year in office, the Senate has confirmed the nominees…The Constitution requires the Senate to provide advice and consent on judicial nominees. The Senate Judiciary Committee is in breach of that duty.”

Verna L. Williams, Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law

“[Senator Portman] has taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the Senate to go rogue and refuse to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominees. The people of Ohio want this vacancy to be filled.”

Edward Fallone, Associate Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School

 “By refusing to consider any nominee put forth by President Obama for the remainder of his term, the Senate is exceeding its constitutional power by effectively asserting the authority to initiate or not initiate the nomination process.  This asserted power goes far beyond any authority for the Senate contained in the Appointments Clause. …Senator Johnson has criticized President Obama’s Executive Orders on immigration and health care. We hope that Senator Johnson will also condemn the power-grab by his colleagues in Congress.”

Melissa Hart, Professor of Law and Director of the Byron R. White Center at University of Colorado Boulder

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that they will not perform their constitutional duty to ‘advise and consent’ in the selection of a Supreme Court justice was a stunning abdication of constitutional responsibility. There is no ambiguity in the Constitution’s statement that the president is obligated to nominate Supreme Court justices. ...For the Republicans to refuse to participate in this process is beyond reprehensible.”


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals.

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