Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder reacted to the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Saturday by questioning the legitimacy of the court and arguing that it needed to regain the nation's trust.
Holder -- who served as the nation’s top lawyer under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2015 -- said the treatment of former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by Senate Republicans, as well as Kavanaugh’s confirmation, meant the legitimacy of the court was in question.
“With the confirmation of Kavanaugh and the process which led to it, (and the treatment of Merrick Garland), the legitimacy of the Supreme Court can justifiably be questioned,” he tweeted. “The Court must now prove - through its work - that it is worthy of the nation’s trust.”
He did not say how the court would go about doing that.
The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh Saturday after a rancorous confirmation fight and a week-long FBI probe to settle concerns about sexual assault allegations that threatened his nomination. It marked the tightest successful Supreme Court confirmation vote in over 100 years.
Democrats, who had expressed concerns about the allegations as well as about Kavanaugh’s temperament and judicial record, also frequently cited the case of Merrick Garland as they called for the nomination to be either delayed or withdrawn entirely.
Obama nominated Garland to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia after Scalia’s death in early 2016. But Republicans held the Senate and refused to hold hearings for Garland, saying that it should wait until after the 2016 election. When President Trump took office in January 2017, he instead nominated now-Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Democrats have accused Republicans of “stealing” a seat that belonged to Garland, while Republicans have said that there is a long-standing tradition of not confirming nominees during a presidential election year.
Holder had referred to the Garland controversy in a tweet on Friday as a way to urge Democrats and left-wing activists to turn out in November to vote.
“As you lament the Merrick Garland outrage never forget that McConnell and R’s did not fill lower court seats for YEARS,” he said. “Those are the seats being filled now. Use the rage of today to get people out to vote and be rid of these people. Your voice matters. Your vote counts. VOTE!”
President Barack Obama’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.