MINNEAPOLIS - He's a consensus builder, an even handed moderate with an impressive resume.
That's how Sen. Al Franken describes Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court nominee who's waiting on the Senate's vote.
“This is a big part of our job,” Franken said, “And we're supposed to do our jobs.”
Yet Republican senators refuse to hear Garland's nomination, saying they'll wait for the next president to choose a nominee. That delay would mean months with no tie-breaking ninth justice.
“This gets us on a slippery slope,” Franken said.
Even some Republicans are pressuring Senators to confirm Garland. Richard Painter served as Chief Ethics Counselor to former President George W. Bush, and says with so many big issues on the docket, the country can't afford uncertainty.
“From immigration to national security and first amendment rights, we need a Supreme Court that's going to make decisions,” Painter said.
One of those decisions could come soon, as the eight remaining justices weigh President Obama's plan to give temporary work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. If the justices split four to four, the tie vote would uphold a block on the President's plan but give no permanent ruling.
“There are going to be many cases that aren't going to be resolved,” said David Schultz, a political analyst and professor at Hamline University, “Or that are going to resolved in ways that aren't definitive.”
“It really throws a lot of people's lives into uncertainty,” Franken said.
A lot like Merrick Garland's, as he waits to learn whether he or someone else will take the bench.