By Dianne Feinstein

Originally appeared in USA Today

Sitting in the White House Rose Garden weeks ago, I felt a real sense of pride watching President Obama introduce Merrick B. Garland as his choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

Judge Garland is a brilliant jurist who has dedicated his life to serving the people of the United States. When I review his record, I’m even more convinced that he deserves full and fair consideration by the Senate.

For evidence of this, look no further than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — 21 years ago this month, where Merrick Garland led the federal investigation and supervised the prosecution.

This case study is telling. His actions clearly demonstrate the traits most desired in a Supreme Court Justice — mastery of the law, fairness and sound judgment.

I vividly remember that day — the devastation and loss of life. One hundred sixty-eight people were killed when a multi-ton bomb was detonated inside a Ryder truck outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Fifteen children in the building’s day care center and four children visiting the building were among the dead. Hundreds more were injured.

The bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. The aftermath was gruesome. Many victims were dedicated civil servants who worked each day to better their communities and country. Many were sitting at their desks when the bomb went off.

The haunting images showed blood, smoke, crying babies and faces filled with horror. The whole downtown area in Oklahoma City was devastated by the blast.

But the aftermath also revealed the best of public service. First responders and investigators swarmed the site to rescue those trapped in the debris, comfort survivors, and look for evidence.

Garland's lead role in the methodical investigation and eventual prosecution of the perpetrators showed the value of devoting one’s skill and energy to serving our nation and its people.

Former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick recalled that Garland asked to be sent to Oklahoma City. Justice Department officials trusted that he had the sober judgment needed to handle the government’s response to what was then the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. That judgment is reflected throughout the government’s case.

Garland was on the ground two days after the bombing coordinating the investigation, which involved thousands of agents nationwide and multiple federal prosecutors’ offices. He supervised the trial team until his confirmation to the federal bench andensured that the victims of this dastardly attack were kept informed of the proceedings.

The 130-page decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Timothy McVeigh’s conviction and sentence notes several instances in which the government’s presentation was careful and restrained.

The decision says the “government in this case exercised considerable restraint in avoiding overly emotional testimony.” It also notes the prosecution was careful to avoid calling witnesses whose testimony, in the court’s words, might “cross the line,” or multiple witnesses who would make the same point.

The prosecution of a high-profile case infused with so much emotion must be handled carefully. Otherwise, any number of things could go wrong — resulting in the judge ordering a new trial or an appeals court overturning the conviction.

That did not happen in this case. The appeals court upheld the convictions of both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. McVeigh’s principal defense attorney, Stephen Jones, has praised Garland, for his professional capabilities as well as his character.

Jones is a self-described "partisan Republican." He has been a Republican sinceage 12 and was the Republican nominee for Senate in Oklahoma in 1990.

Not only does Jones support Garland's nomination, he personally wrote to the president in February urging that he choose Garland. He has stated that Garland is not a partisan advocate and was fair. He also said Garland is temperate and has sober judgment. This is high praise from an adversary in a major case.

The American people were incredibly fortunate that Garland led the government response to Oklahoma City. Beyond this particular case, he has served our nation during a long career in the Justice Department and nearly two decades on the United States Court of Appeals.

I believe this distinguished record should send a message to every senator. We were sent to Washington to serve our constituents for six years. That includes considering nominees to the Supreme Court.

Judge Garland’s long record of public service calls for fair consideration, open hearings and a vote. Refusal to do this would, in my judgment, only further diminish the Senate in the eyes of the American people.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a Democrat from California.