Top Lawyers at 44 Companies Urge U.S. Senate to Consider Garland

AFP_AG0ZK

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland waits for a meeting with Senator Brian Schatz on Capitol Hill on May 10, 2016, in Washington.

Photographer: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
  • Businesses need to avoid ‘legal uncertainty,’ letter says
  • Republicans say next president should fill Scalia vacancy

The top lawyers at 44 U.S. companies, including Nike Inc. and Viacom Inc., are calling on the U.S. Senate to take up the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

In a letter being sent Thursday to top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the general counsels call Garland "exceptionally well-qualified" and say a prolonged vacancy on the high court could leave important business issues unresolved.

"The business community has a great interest in avoiding the legal uncertainty that could result if the vacancy remains unfilled for an extended period of time," according to the letter, being sent to the committee’s Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and top Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont.

The signers of the letter include Michael Fricklas of Viacom; Hilary Krane of Nike; David Ellen of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Ivan Fong of 3M Co.; Donald J. Rosenberg of Qualcomm Inc.; Lori Schechter of McKesson Corp.; and Audrey Strauss of Alcoa Inc. The letter was spearheaded by Jonathan Schwartz, general counsel of Univision Communications Inc.

The Supreme Court has been operating shorthanded since Justice Antonin Scalia’s Feb. 13 death. President Barack Obama nominated Garland to succeed Scalia, but Grassley and other Senate Republicans have refused to consider the nomination, saying the next president should fill the vacancy.

The high court has deadlocked 4-4 in two cases since Scalia died. The justices could hit additional impasses before their term concludes at the end of the month.

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