Latino lawmakers, advocates and legal groups have welcomed President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and called on Congress for a fair nomination process.

Latinos in Congress React to Garland

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the only Latino Democrat serving in the Senate, said Garland was a worthy nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. He said the Senate should consider the nominee, a process that includes a hearing, debate and vote.

"The American people expect us to do our job, without delay and politically-motivated excuses. I take this responsibility seriously and I look forward to the opportunity to learn more about Judge Garland's credentials, to study his record and to meet with him personally. I urge Republican leaders to now respect both the words of the Constitution and the voices of the American people," said Menendez. "Let's get to work. Democracy must not stop at the Capitol steps."

Although members in the House of Representatives do not vote on judicial nominees, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, has asked Senate Republicans to avoid politicizing the nomination process and provide Garland with a fair hearing a vote.

"Today President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and announced a nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. ... Now it's time for the Senate to do its job and provide the President's nominee with a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote. By refusing to consider Garland, Senate Republicans are yet again putting party before country," said Castro in a statement.

The congressman for Texas' 20th Congressional District said it would be a disservice to Americans and democracy if the Supreme Court were held hostage for political gain.

"The Senate has already confirmed Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a court that considers a greater percentage of high-profile, complex cases involving the federal government than any other appeals court in the nation. Senate Republicans should put politics aside, follow decades of precedent, and swiftly provide Garland with the consideration he deserves," added Castro.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), said the CHC urged a "swift and thoughtful consideration" of Garland's nomination.

"I would also like to remind my Senate Republican colleagues that the American people -- including 11.2 million Latinos who voted in the 2012 election -- do have a voice in this nomination. The American people expressed their will when they overwhelmingly reelected President Obama to a second full term -- with the understanding that if a vacancy occurred, it is part of the President's duty to nominate a Supreme Court Justice," said Sanchez.

The CHC chairwoman said if Senate Republicans fail conduct a hearing on Garland's nomination, it would disenfranchise the voices of millions of Americans.

"The vacancy before us is one that is critically important for Latinos living in the United States. There are several cases before the Supreme Court this year and without a ninth Justice, the Latino community has so much to lose. The President has fulfilled his obligation, now all eyes are on the Senate to do the same," said Sanchez.

Civil Rights, Legal Advocates Respond too

Robert T. Maldonado, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), congratulated Garland and said he looks forward to reviewing his record. Maldonado added that the HNBA will make issue recommendations in regards to his nomination.

"We call on the Senate to fulfill, in a timely fashion, its own judicial review process, as outlined in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States. This means giving Chief Judge Garland a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee and an up-or-down vote on whether to proceed on his nomination. Should they refuse or fail to do so, Senate leaders will not only be abdicating their constitutional duty; they will be thwarting the will of the American people and denying millions the full relief that only the highest court in the land provides," continued Maldonado.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Latino-based civil rights organization, recognized Garland as a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. LULAC President Roger Rocha, Jr. also called on the Senate to meet their "advice and consent" duties and allow a confirmation vote. He said Americans deserve a full nine-member Supreme Court that will decide on matters affecting the Latino community, such as the legality of Obama's November 2014 immigration executive actions.

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, board member of the progressive organization People For the American Way (PFAW), commended Obama for moving forward with the nomination process despite Republicans' previous calls and statements to block any nominee.

"Latinos have a huge amount at stake at the Supreme Court. Whether it's the fate of undocumented immigrants, or a woman's right to choose, or the ability of workers to demand fair treatment in the workplace, the issues that matter to our community are going to be decided by the Supreme Court," said Huerta in statement. "It's critical that we have someone who understands the impact that the Court's rulings have in the real world, and it's critical that we stand up to Republicans who want to play politics with the Constitution."

Hector Sanchez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), also acknowledged the impact the Supreme Court has on the Latino community. On Tuesday, the NHLA conducted a press call urging senators to commit to a fair nomination process. On Wednesday, Sanchez reiterated the message.

"Decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court have a profound effect on Latinos. From rulings on immigration policy to voting rights to labor law, the impact of the court is deep and lasting, and it plays a vital role in our democracy. With the integrity of our judiciary at stake, it would be deeply irresponsible for senators to obstruct a nominee to the court," said Sanchez, noting the NHLA will carefully review Garland's qualifications and record.


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