Fox's Andrew Napolitano and Stuart Varney accused Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland of publicly “lobbying for the job” by speaking during his nomination announcement, despite precedent of prior Supreme Court nominees chosen by presidents of both parties doing the same.
During the March 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney said he was “surprised to hear Judge Merrick Garland say anything” during the nomination announcement, and accused Garland of sounding “like he was lobbying for the job” while speaking at the White House. Napolitano added that “It is highly unusual for the nominee, him or herself, to engage in any type of public lobbying and really should be reserved for behind the scenes with the members of the Senate.” Napolitano said that he could not imagine former President Ronald Reagan allowing a Supreme Court nominee to speak at his announcement, saying “A different era, a different president, different morals, different values.”
But, there is strong precedent of presidents from both parties, including Reagan, allowing Supreme Court nominees to speak during nomination announcements. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor each spoke during their nominations, while former President George W. Bush's nominees Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts were allowed to do the same. Reagan, meanwhile, turned the microphone over to Justice Anthony Kennedy and allowed the late Justice Antonin Scalia to take questions from reporters.
From the March 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): You have just heard President Obama introduce his Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland and you heard Judge Merrick Garland himself. Judge Napolitano is with me now. I was surprised to hear Judge Merrick Garland say anything there. Forgive me, but it sounded to me a bit like he was lobbying for the job.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: It did sound like he was lobbying. It sounded like an emotional plea for the propriety of his nomination. Obviously it was something the White House wrote or approved. It is highly unusual for the nominee, him or herself, to engage in any type of public lobbying and really should be reserved for behind the scenes with the members of the Senate.
VARNEY: That was unusual.
NAPOLITANO: Extremely unusual for a sitting judge who's regulated by what we call the canons of judicial ethics about what he or she may say in public and may not say in public. Highly unusual for this. I was quite surprised. We were kidding with each other, could you imagine Ronald Reagan calling Justice Scalia Antonin and saying, “OK, the microphone is yours.” A different era, a different president, different morals, different values, but this was most unusual what we just saw.