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Coburn says Senate should do its job and vote on Garland

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn

Oklahoman File Photo
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn Oklahoman File Photo

WASHINGTON _ Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that the Senate should hold a vote, at least in the Judiciary Committee, on the nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who was on Capitol Hill to testify about government waste, said public hearings on Supreme Court nominees had become a charade and weren't necessary for Garland. He said members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should meet with Garland privately about legal issues and then the full committee should vote on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate.

"I think the Senate ought to do its duty,'' he said in an interview. "And the committee ought to vote him up or down."

Coburn's comments came a few hours before Oklahoma's two senators were scheduled to meet privately with Garland.

Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, agree with the Senate Republican position that Garland should get neither hearings nor a vote. Many Republicans have refused even to meet with Garland, saying the next president should be able to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Lankford and Inhofe agreed to meet with Garland because of his strong ties to Oklahoma: as a top Justice Department official, he moved to Oklahoma City soon after the Murrah Building bombing in 1995 and coordinate the investigation and prosecutions.

Garland earned wide praise for his work in Oklahoma City.

Coburn served on the Judiciary Committee during consideration of four of the current justices. He criticized Garland's legal views and said he would never support him.

But he said, "I think it's better that you do your job."

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›