Dozens of mayors this week are upping the pressure on Senate GOP leaders to act on President Obama's nomination for the Supreme Court.
In a Monday letter to Sens. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE (R-Ky.), the majority leader, and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee GOP to kill language exempting staff from new ObamaCare repeal bill House cyber chairman wants to bolster workforce MORE (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the local lawmakers say the Republicans' decision to ignore Judge Merrick Garland flies in the face of the Senate's constitutional duty to advise the president on filling high court vacancies.
"The Senate has a responsibility to act, both under the oath they have sworn and to the people for whom they have pledged to work," the lawmakers wrote on behalf of Cities for Action, a coalition of more than 100 mayors and counties advocating for humanitarian immigration policies.
"Your willingness to meet this responsibility is not just a test of your commitment to fulfill the duties of your job, but your fidelity to the democratic values that are at the heart of our nation and our country’s history."
The letter arrives on the first day of the Senate's two-week recess, and advocates are hoping the home-state pressure will force the defiant Republicans to reconsider their position of empowering the next president to fill the seat.
With that in mind, a number of the mayors endorsing the letter hail from states boasting Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They include Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie (Grassley); Mayor Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City, Utah (Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchWhen political opportunity knocked, Jason Chaffetz never failed to cash in Ginsburg pines for more collegial court confirmations Senate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' MORE); Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama (Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsNew chief selected for Justice Department unit overseeing Russia probe Sessions: Some judges ‘using the law to advance an agenda’ Sessions on Flynn: ‘You don’t catch everything’ MORE); Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas (Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' McConnell: Senate will pass short-term funding bill to avoid shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE); Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina (Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTop admiral: North Korea crisis is 'worst I've seen' Comey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record MORE), and Mayor Ted Terry of Clarkston, Georgia (Sen. David Purdue).
The local lawmakers, all Democrats, are emphasizing the impact of Supreme Court decisions on their cities — particularly a looming case challenging Obama's executive actions on immigration. For the Senate not to act on Garland, they charge, is to threaten entire communities under their watch.
"Our immigrant populations are part of the economic and cultural fabric of our communities, yet the justice they seek has been put on hold," the mayors wrote. "Adding any delay in considering a new nominee will further deny a resolution for the future of their families."
Behind McConnell, GOP leaders have dug in against any consideration of Garland, who heads the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Most are refusing even to meet with Obama's pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last month at age 79. The Republicans argue that, in a volatile presidential election year, the voters should have a voice in that decision.
"We’re not confirming a judge to the Supreme Court under this president,” McConnell reiterated Sunday in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Garland is widely respected by both parties, and Obama's decision seems partly designed to put the Republicans in the toughest possible spot in refusing to act.
Complicating their blockade, some Republican senators say they'll meet with Garland. And at least one — Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkThe way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood Leaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Ill.), who faces a tough reelection bid this year — is calling for a vote.
"Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why," Kirk told a Chicago radio station last week.
The mayors are not alone in using the long recess to badger the Republicans. A coalition of liberal advocacy groups — including MoveOn.org, Credo Action and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — are staging more than 50 rallies around the country on Monday targeting Judiciary Committee members and other Republicans facing tough reelection contests.
The "Do Your Job" campaign will feature events outside the offices of GOP Sens. Grassley, Cornyn, Rob PortmanRob PortmanTrump talks big on trade, but workers need action Trump tax plan prompts GOP fears about deficit Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality MORE (Ohio), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonTrump signs executive order creating new VA office Trump tax plan prompts GOP fears about deficit Lawmakers targeted as district politics shift MORE (Wis.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
“Senate Republicans don’t get to subvert the Constitution and refuse to do their jobs just because they don’t like President Obama,” Murshed Zaheed, head of CREDO Action, said in a statement.