WASHINGTON -- Ken Starr, the former Reagan administration appeals court judge who spent years investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton, thinks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should hold hearings and a vote on President Barack Obama's choice to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Starr served six years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit -- where Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, now presides as chief judge -- before becoming President George H.W. Bush's solicitor general. Current Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was Starr's deputy.
The former judge, now president of Baylor University, rose to notoriety as the independent counsel who spent four years probing the Clintons over their Whitewater investments and Monica Lewinsky, among other things. Democrats routinely cast the investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt.
Speaking on a panel at his university Wednesday, Starr argued that the Senate has a responsibility to vote on Garland, the Waco Tribune reported.
“Good government calls for us to have a hearing and vote up or down,” Starr said at the event where he also profusely praised Scalia, who died in mid-February, prompting McConnell to announce a blockade of any Obama nominee to replace him.
But Starr also granted Garland a ringing endorsement to fill the conservative jurist's vacant seat.
“He’s superbly qualified,” said Starr of Obama's nominee. “I had the privilege of knowing the chief judge for many years. Unfortunately, I never served with him, but we have rubbed shoulders professionally for several decades and he is, again, superbly qualified.”
A spokesman for McConnell declined to provide a comment.
Starr once represented McConnell in a major case challenging federal election law. He praised the selection of Garland when Obama made the announcement, but this appears to be the first time Starr has weighed in on the Senate's inaction on the nomination.