by Ashley Lawrence, co-president, ACS Student Chapter at Howard University School of Law
On Tuesday Sept. 20, the Howard Law community celebrated Constitution Day commemorating the signing of the Constitution by our country’s Founding Fathers on Sept. 17, 1787. Among the many relevant words within the living, breathing document are those contained in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 which states: “The President […] shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint […] judges of the Supreme Court.” At present—more than 191 days after nomination —Supreme Court nominee and U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland awaits confirmation and has yet to receive even a hearing for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.
The guest for Howard Law’s celebration of Constitution Day was none other than Chief Judge Merrick Garland. The lively “Arm Chair Conversation” between Chief Judge Garland and Howard Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker was thought provoking and left me with two main takeaways. One—this is the longest any Supreme Court nominee has waited to be confirmed. His nomination is all the more important because his role in the federal judiciary, which plays a significant role in making decisions that address critical constitutional and civil rights issues, is currently diminished. Two—it is imperative that we learn in law school how crucial it is to participate in public interest opportunities and continue to commit to public service in our legal careers by investing in our communities to ensure the legal rights of society’s most vulnerable. Chief Judge Garland has demonstrated this commitment by volunteering with students from J.O. Wilson Elementary School for the past 18 years and by participating in the Annual Judicial Reception here at Howard Law for the past 14 years.