New Top Judiciary Dem Warns Trump: We Won’t Forget How GOP Treated Garland

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 3, 2014, as the panel votes to approve declassifying part of a secret report on Bush-era interrogations of terrorism suspects puts the onus on the CIA and a reluctant White House to speed the release of one of the most definitive accounts about the government's actions after the 9/11 attacks. Members of the intelligence community raised concerns that the committee failed to interview top spy agency officials who had authorized or supervised the brutal interrogations.  (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Molly Riley/FR170882 AP

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Democrat who will become the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, warned in a statement Wednesday that Democrats will “scrutinize” President-elect Donald Trump’s judiciary nominees and won’t forget how President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was blocked by Senate Republicans.

“After the unprecedented and disrespectful treatment of Merrick Garland—a moderate judge who should have been quickly confirmed—the committee will pay very close attention to proposed nominees to ensure the fundamental constitutional rights of Americans are protected,” Feinstein said.

Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, was nominated by President Obama in March to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. In a unprecedented move, Senate Republicans denied Garland a committee hearing and a vote — many refused to even meet with him, as is custom — after GOP leaders had vowed to block any nominee Obama put forward.

“When President-elect Trump is willing to support responsible policies and nominees, I’ll hear him out, but this committee has a vital role to protect the Constitution and scrutinize policies, senior officials and judges very carefully, and that’s what we intend to do,” Feinstein said in her statement. “We simply won’t stand aside and watch the tremendous successes achieved over the past eight years be swept away or allow our nation’s most vulnerable populations to be targeted.”

Feinstein will take over the role as top Democrat on the committee with the news that that the current ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would step down from the position. Leahy will remain on the committee, but said he was giving up the ranking membership position because he was taking over the top Democratic role on the Senate Appropriations Committee.