Connecticut’s Democrat-controlled Senate voted 19-15 Wednesday in favor of a resolution asking the U.S. Senate to hold confirmation hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, were absent and didn’t vote on the resolution.
Connecticut’s measure was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk.
“We know by watching the presidential campaigns that people are frustrated, dare I say angry, in our country,” Duff said. “People believe the political system is not working. We want to send a message to Washington to work in a bipartisan way and get the job done.”
Duff recently joined a coalition of state legislators and local government officials in 17 states to call upon the U.S. Senate to give Garland a fair hearing.
“The state of the law in this country may be uncertain in the absence of nine Justices sitting on the Supreme Court adjudicating the cases and controversies that come before the court,” according to the resolution.
The resolution, which is emergency certified and never had a public hearing, lists several cases as reasons why the U.S. Senate needs to act to fill the vacancy left by the Feb. 13 death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
One of the cases highlighted in the resolution, Shew v. Malloy, involved Connecticut’s 2013 gun control legislation. Plaintiffs in that case asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision in favor of the state.
But Republicans in the Connecticut Senate wondered why the legislative body was spending its time on Washington.
“We have an emergency in the state of Connecticut,” said Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury. “But it’s not this resolution — it’s our budget and we should be spending every second of our time working on fixing that . . . If we are going to have a discussion with the federal government it should be about balancing the budget.
“United States senators don’t care what Connecticut State senators think about the Supreme Court. We are just wasting time on this today,” McLachlan added.
In March, Obama nominated Garland, who is currently chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to serve as the next associate justice on the Supreme Court.
But Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have made it clear that they do not intend to hold hearings or vote on Garland’s nomination. They argue that the next president should fill the vacancy.
Only two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois, have openly supported holding a hearing for Garland. Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee has signed a letter in opposition to a hearing.
The court has issued two split decisions since Scalia’s passing. One involved spousal rights under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the other involved the payment of fees by non-union teachers in California.