The claim: Donald Trump revoked Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination when he became president
FBI agents searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Aug. 8 as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed classified documents from the White House upon leaving office.
Just days after the search, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he "personally approved" the decision to seek a search warrant. Some social media users claim that Garland's purported history with Trump may have played a role in that decision.
"Attorney General Merrick Garland approved an FBI raid on the former president who personally revoked his nomination for the Supreme Court when he won the presidency," reads a Facebook post shared Aug. 9 by radio talk show host Ben Ferguson.
But legal experts told USA TODAY that Trump had no direct role in Garland's failed high court nomination.
President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016. Republican senators, however, said they would not consider Garland because they wanted the next president elected to office to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, according to news reports. With no action by the Senate, Garland's nomination expired in 2017 – and with no involvement from Trump.
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USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Republican senators blocked Garland's nomination
Trump did not personally revoke Garland’s nomination, Bruce Huber, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, told USA TODAY in an email.
Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Under Senate rules, nominations that are neither confirmed nor rejected expire at the end of the congressional session, Huber said. That was the case with Garland.
After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016, Obama had the opportunity to nominate a new justice with lifetime tenure, as USA TODAY reported. He chose Garland, who was then the chief judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
However, Republican senators refused to consider Garland, saying that, in light of the upcoming 2016 election, they wanted the next president to nominate a replacement for Scalia. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he wanted to "give the people a voice" in filling the spot.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold a hearing or confirmation vote for Garland. His nomination expired on January 3, 2017, the last day of that session of Congress, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump's nominee, Neil Gorsuch, filled the seat vacated by Scalia in April 2017, according to the Supreme Court's website.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Trump revoked Garland's Supreme Court nomination when he became president. Republican senators said they would not consider Garland, Obama's nominee, as they wanted the next president elected to office to pick a new justice. Garland's nomination expired in 2017 with no involvement from Trump.
Our fact-check sources:
Bruce Huber, Aug. 14, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Chris Edelson, Aug. 14, Phone interview with USA TODAY
USA TODAY, Feb. 13, 2016, Republicans already opposing any Obama Supreme Court nomination
USA TODAY, March 16, 2016, GOP senators vow not to consider Garland to fill Supreme Court vacancy
Supreme Court of the United States, accessed Aug. 15, Current Members
USA TODAY, Oct. 20, 2020, Fact check: Senate Republicans moving to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee but blocked Obama's
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3, 2017, President Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination of Merrick Garland Expires
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, accessed Aug. 15, Merrick Garland
USA TODAY, Aug. 11, Trump says he won't fight move to unseal Mar-a-Lago search warrant
White House, accessed Aug. 15, The Judicial Branch
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: GOP senators blocked Merrick Garland's SCOTUS nomination