Today, a delegation from the Florida Why Courts Matter coalition paid a visit to Sen. Marco Rubio’s Tallahassee office, highlighting the critical need to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2016
TALLAHASSEE – Today, a delegation from the Florida Why Courts Matter coalition paid a visit to Sen. Marco Rubio’s Tallahassee office, highlighting the critical need to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. Rubio has joined obstructionist Republican Senators including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who are refusing to hold hearings and votes on any nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“No matter the issue – marriage equality, voting rights, employment discrimination, environmental protection, health care, immigration and more – our federal judiciary plays an important role in the lives of hardworking Floridians,” said Barbara DeVane of the Florida National Organization for Women. “We need a fully functioning court to ensure that all of our rights are equally protected under the law.”
Before the ink on newspaper headlines had even dried about the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, Majority Leader McConnell said that the Senate should not consider any U.S. Supreme Court nominee until 2017, after a new President is sworn in. Since then, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has joined Sen. McConnell in refusing to allow hearings and a vote on a new Justice. Considering it has never taken a Supreme Court nominee more than 125 days for a confirmation vote, this dereliction of constitutional duty is unprecedented.
The potential repercussions of a missing member on the Supreme Court cannot be overstated. With only eight justices, tied 4-4 votes from the Court would result in a ruling that defaults to decisions made by lower courts.
Americans rely on the Supreme Court to rule on the nation’s most critical and divisive issues. As some states, including Florida, pass laws aimed at shutting down abortion providers, health care access for millions of women hangs in the balance. Florida’s high school graduates don’t know whether the Supreme Court will allow states to employ affirmative action to increase student diversity at colleges. Many Floridians work for religious employers that are seeking the right to deny access to contraceptive health care. Thousands of Floridians have family members or loved ones who fear deportation.
“All of these unresolved issues highlight the need for a fully functioning nine-member Supreme Court, and point to the folly of the blatant political obstruction currently playing out in the Senate,” said Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director of Progress Florida. “If Sen. Rubio and his colleagues refuse to hold hearings and a vote on any Supreme Court nominee until 2017, the negative impact on millions of Floridians could reverberate for many years to come.”
Polling shows broad public support for a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. One of the leading Republican candidates for Rubio’s job, Rep. David Jolly (St. Petersburg) acknowledged that the Senate’s job is to hold hearings and conduct votes on nominees to the Court. Jolly recently stated in a debate that, “I do think (Garland) should have a hearing and I would like to see a vote.”
“Floridians deserve to have a fair and functioning judicial system and today we’re calling on Sen. Rubio to #DoYourJob and support a functioning nine member U.S. Supreme Court,” said DeVane.
The Florida Why Courts Matter coalition is focused on ensuring that the federal judiciary is representative of America’s diverse population, and supports access to fair and impartial courts as a crucial component of a healthy democracy. For more information visit www.whycourtsmatter.org.