IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
“In a debate six years ago, Rob Portman said confirming judges is a ‘solemn responsibility’ of the U.S. Senate.”
“It’s a statement that former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said is at odds with the stance Mr. Portman has taken on President Obama’s nomination of District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.”
Strickland, Portman argue judge position, Senator called it ‘responsibility’ in ’10
Toledo Blade, Tom Troy
March 22, 2016
In a debate six years ago, Rob Portman said confirming judges is a “solemn responsibility” of the U.S. Senate.
It’s a statement that former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said is at odds with the stance Mr. Portman has taken on President Obama’s nomination of District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.
Mr. Portman, a Republican, is siding with the Senate Republican leadership, which is refusing to act on the nomination because it is an election year.
On Oct. 4, 2010, Mr. Portman, then a former U.S. congressman running to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), debated Democratic nominee Lee Fisher, who served under Mr. Strickland as his lieutenant governor.
The debate, held in Toledo, was co-sponsored by The Blade and other Ohio newspapers. It was broadcast on WTVG-TV Channel 13.
The two were asked a question about a recent spate of Supreme Court appointments.
“The Senate does have a solemn responsibility and that’s the confirmation of judges,” Mr. Portman said.
He went on to say that he would vote to confirm only candidates who “had the right judicial temperament, and … did not legislate from the bench. That’s the job of the legislature.”
Mr. Portman won the Republican nomination on March 15 for a second six-year term. Mr. Strickland won the Democratic nomination for that seat.
David Bergstein, campaign spokesman for Mr. Strickland, said Senator Portman was right in saying he has a solemn responsibility to consider the Supreme Court nominee.
“Instead of upholding his constitutional duty, Senator Portman is once again pushing the agenda of the D.C. power brokers and well-connected special interests he serves at our expense. The hypocrisy that Senator Portman is displaying represents exactly what Ohioans detest about the twisted, dysfunctional politics of Washington and insiders like Portman who practice them. Ohioans have a simple message for Sen. Portman: Do your job, Rob,” he said.
A spokesman for Mr. Portman said the comment about the Senate’s solemn duty is perfectly consistent with the position the senator is taking.
“He didn’t say the Senate had a solemn responsibility to confirm every judge [the President] nominated,” said spokesman Corry Bliss. “His statement in the Toledo debate is entirely consistent with what he has said on this matter and what he wrote for The [Cincinnati] Enquirer. He believes the best thing for the country is to listen to the people and allow them to decide this issue.”
In a guest column in the Cincinnati newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Portman said, “I have concluded that the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in and to have the confirmation process take place in a less partisan atmosphere.
“Awaiting the result of a democratic election, rather than having a nomination fight in this contentious election-year environment, will give the nominee more legitimacy and, as then-Senator Biden pointed out, better preserve the institutional credibility of the Senate and the court,” he wrote.
He referred to a statement by Vice President Joe Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992 that he would recommend against holding hearings on a Supreme Court nominee if Republican President George H.W. Bush made one that year, which was a presidential election year.
The vacancy is because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky immediately said the Senate would not consider any nominations until the next president is sworn in in 2017 to allow the American people to express their viewpoint in the current presidential campaign. Any justice appointed by a Democrat is likely to shift the court from its 5-4 conservative leaning when Justice Scalia was alive to a 5-4 liberal leaning.
Mr. Garland is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Senate confirmed his appointment to that court in 1997.
Video of the debate is archived by C-SPAN. During the exchange, Mr. Fisher said he would have voted to confirm Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by President Obama, but was not sure if he would have been against President George W. Bush’s nominees Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Mr. Portman said he would have voted against Justice Kagan.
For Immediate Release: March 23, 2016
Contact: David Bergstein or Liz Margolis, press@TedStrickland.com