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Field Poll: Merrick Garland should get confirmation hearings

Obama on Scalia: One of Supreme Court's most consequential judges and thinkers

President Obama called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "a larger-than-life” presence on the Supreme Court. The justice died in February on a ranch near Marfa, Tex. A new poll finds that 64 percent of Californians believe federal appeals cour
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President Obama called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "a larger-than-life” presence on the Supreme Court. The justice died in February on a ranch near Marfa, Tex. A new poll finds that 64 percent of Californians believe federal appeals cour

Californians overwhelmingly believe President Barack Obama’s recent U.S. Supreme Court nominee should at least receive Senate confirmation hearings.

A new poll finds that 64 percent believe federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s selection to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, should receive Senate confirmation hearings rather than hovering in election-year limbo.

Just 29 percent take the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants to “revisit” the issue when the next president can nominate someone. The results mirror several national surveys taken over the last month.

The latest Field Poll discovered that opinions on the matter, like most issues, are charged by a high degree of partisanship: 80 percent of Democrats want hearings, compared with 36 percent of Republicans.

 

Congress’ refusal to act on the nomination is the latest example of the kind of inaction that fuels public discord here, poll director Mark DiCamillo said in the accompanying memo.

The same survey found that while nearly six in 10 Californians offer an upbeat assessment of the job Obama is now doing, a continuation of recent polls where he has been at highs not seen since his “honeymoon” phase, just 15 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing compared with 80 percent who disapprove.

About 80 percent of independents are unhappy with Congress. Some 68 percent of independents believe Garland should get hearings, while 21 percent want to wait.

Several Republican senators in the last few weeks have agreed to meetings with Garland, but fewer have called for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves on the Judiciary Committee, has said Garland’s record calls for fair consideration hearings and a vote. Anything short would “further diminish” the Senate’s reputation, she said.

Last week, at the University of Chicago Law School, Obama similarly warned about the prospect of appointing judges becoming so partisan that the “courts will be just an extension of our legislatures and our elections and our politics.” “That,” Obama added, “erodes the institutional integrity of the judicial branch.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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