Democrats should hold “rump” hearings on Merrick Garland

committee_roomRepublicans have clearly stated that they won’t even hold a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. But that obstructionist stand should not prevent Senate Democrats from holding their own “rump” hearings. [Definition of rump, in case you’ve forgotten: “constituting a subsidiary or small group or the remnant of a once larger organization”] 

I’d love to see the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee set up their own alternative, “rump” hearing. The Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee are: Patrick Leahy, D-VT, Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Charles Schumer, D-NY, Dick Durbin, D-IL, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, Amy Klobuchar, D-MI, Al Franken, D-MN, Christopher Coons, D-DE, Richard Blumenthal, D-CT. That’s an all-star lineup, many of whom would thrive on the attention they’d draw to themselves. Think Schumer, in particular.

I don’t know if Senate rules ban them from holding an unauthorized meeting in the Judiciary’s hearing room. But if such a prohibition exists, why couldn’t Democrats simply rent a nice meeting room somewhere in DC and convene there, unofficially?  It could be a very effective political move: They could show off Garland’s credentials while taking the opportunity to shame the Republicans for not doing their job.

They could also issue invitations to Republicans—both on and off the Judiciary Committee. Some Republicans—feeling vulnerable to November challenges because voters know that they’re doing nothing productive—have already said that they’d “meet with” Garland, even if they haven’t gone as far as saying they’d attend an official committee hearing. Maybe some of them would show up, too. What a public-relations coup that would be, eh?  [I know, magical thinking.]

Still, I would hope that, at minimum, C-SPAN would cover the “hearing,” and it would be even better if some courageous mainstream media outlet would be there, too. At the very least, print media and alternative sources could be invited.

How about it Democrats? Get creative. What have you got to lose, anyway?



  • Stacy Mergenthal

    Personally, I would love to see the kind of courage and creativity from the progressive left that it would take to hold such hearings. We rely too much on others’ good judgment. “Surely,” we say, “voters will see how obstructionist and useless these Republicans are and vote accordingly in the next election.” But that is rarely the case. We are perceived as the weak party and there are always some who don’t want the government to work. We should be hammering them on this (and other issues), highlighting their hypocrisy at every opportunity and reminding voters that this is the party of obstruction at any cost.