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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Republican Sen. Susan Collins responded simply when asked about Mitch McConnel’s stance on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

“I believe that we should follow the regular order in considering this nominee,” she said.

But the Maine senator’s point marks what could be a shift away from McConnel’s — and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s — hardline opposition to holding hearings for Garland.

“The Constitution’s very clear that the president has every right to make the nomination, and then the Senate can either consent or withhold its consent.” The only way to do that is to thoroughly vet the nominee, Collins said, by having personal meetings — and holding public hearings.

McConnell has asserted — starting an hour after Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed — that he has a right under the Constitution to completely ignore the president’s nomination, arguing that it is part of the separation of powers.

“It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Apart from the fact he is denying the Senate the opportunity to withhold consent, McConnell did not even mention the “advise” part of the appointments clause.

McConnell spoke to Garland by phone Wednesday evening to inform him they would not meet. Garland is making the rounds on Capitol Hill today, initially to talk to Democrats.

Republican senators are starting to move beyond McConnell’s position, agreeing they will meet Garland. This includes Sen. Jeff Flake, a member of the Judiciary Committee, who still insists no consideration of the nomination will be made.

Others have gone further, including Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is facing a tough re-election battle against Rep. Tammy Duckworth in November.

Kirk, in a statement issued just hours after President Obama announced the nomination, said: “The Senate’s constitutionally defined role to provide advice and consent is as important as the president’s role in proposing a nominee, and I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications.”

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, also facing a tough re-election fight this fall against Gov. Maggie Hassan, said she will meet with Garland but still opposes consideration of the nomination.

Her state has already seen a rash of ads, for and against considering the nomination, a measure of how large a part the issue will play in the election.

But, elsewhere, though national polls suggest 66 percent of voters believe the nominee should be considered, Republican senators are betting that it’s not a big enough issue to make a difference in most races.

Either way, Obama couldn’t have picked a better nominee than Garland, who is by all accounts a centrist jurist with impeccable credentials and a solid record, for the uphill battle. Obama resisted advice to appoint him earlier — Garland has been up for consideration twice before — instead nominating Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor.

Many Republicans admit he is a good nominee, while maintaing that the decision must be left to the next president.

Or not left to the next president, if one somewhat confusing proposal is acted upon.

It goes like this: wait until after November election results, and then the nomination process can begin, with Garland being confirmed before the next president is inaugurated. Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose past praise of Garland has been widely broadcast, said Thursday that scenario is possible because “we would like to treat him fairly.”

Here’s another reading: It’s not clear if Republicans are more worried about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump naming the next Supreme Court justice.

Photo: Mitch McConnell (R-KY) adjusts his glasses while taking questions on the upcoming budget battle on Capitol Hill in Washington September 29, 2015.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron    

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17 responses to “GOP Senators Begin To Budge On Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee”

  1. Lynda Groom says:

    The drip, drip, drip has begun.

  2. Dominick Vila says:

    The vindictive stance taken by Mitch McConnell, and the damage his decision may make to Republican Senators running for re-election, makes no sense whatsoever.

    • dpaano says:

      But, Dom, it may help the Democrats to win back the majority in the Senate…..people are NOT happy about the Senate’s decision to go against the Constitution!! There’s a whole LOT of seats in the Senate that are up for re-election, and there’s a good chance that the GOP might lose their majority!!! I wonder what they’ll do then! They won’t have ANY choice in who is nominated to the Supreme Court…..they be better off letting Garland go through the process!

      • Dominick Vila says:

        I agree. The first question I would ask to the Republican Senators who are saying that the reason they don’t even want to interview Judge Garland is because they want to let the American people decide the ideological leanings of the Court, is if the latest litmus test applies to all future Presidents, and explain the constitutionality of their position while they are at it.
        The most revealing rationale for what they are doing was given by a GOP Senator from Arizona when he said that Judge Garland will be interviewed and confirmed in November if Hillary Clinton wins the election.

        • Insinnergy says:

          Is there any rule that says that Obama can’t withdraw his applicant at that point?
          If they try that, I’d withdraw Garland and supply a trans-gendered, outwardly female, African-American judge with a very strong Liberal bias.
          Then send them a thank you card.

          • Dominick Vila says:

            None that I am aware of. I’ll be delighted to sign the card…
            Bear in mind that in addition to planning to use this as a wedge issue during the campaign, they are also determined to limit the impact of what will happen if either Hillary or Bernie are elected. There are at least two more Justices ready to retire. Replacing Scalia, and two more Justices, with people whose personal leanings suggest they may be progressives will prevent the far right from achieving goals such as overturning Roe V Wade, and getting rid of social programs that benefit the poor and the middle class, as well as those designed to protect our environment, limit Wall Street and corporate fraud, reduce the financial inequality schism that exists in the USA, and make changes to our judicial system so that the law is applied equally regardless of wealth, power, ethnicity, or gender.

    • Sand_Cat says:

      Let’s hope it does lots of damage to Republicans everywhere, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  3. ray says:

    McConnell’s racism its showing. I don’t think he would do this with a white president.

  4. Savvory Champion says:

    The one thing all politicians have in common is that they will do whatever is necessary to survive even if that means sacrificing one of their own. McConnell should be very versed in that madness and recognize that each and every time one of their ilk decides to lead their caucus to the cliff of political purity, sanity forces those who are not willing to jump off that cliff begin to consider what is in their best interest over their loyalty to their party’s interest and they often find a tactful way to disengage from their political suicide mission – just ask Ted Cruz how his purity is working out for him during this election cycle – no real senate support.

  5. dpaano says:

    McConnell is a traitorous jackass!!! From Day One, he’s fought everything that President Obama has proposed ONLY because one of their own didn’t get the presidency TWICE!!! Now, he thinks he can just make a decision to go against the Constitution and not allow Garland to be vetted properly. The biggest problem he’s going to have is when the GOP realizes that they have once again lost the presidency to a Democrat. And, if we’re lucky, the Senate will also lose the GOP leadership. Also, once a Democrat is inaugurated as president, she (or he) will have the opportunity of replacing more than just one Supreme Court Justice! If McConnell had any brains, he would allow Garland to be approved to sit on the court because, God only knows, the next president and Senate may not get as good a choice as they have now! He needs to do the job we’re paying him to do!!!

  6. billinct860 says:

    Gee… wish I could refuse to do my job and still get paid! Maybe they want to see who
    Clinton nominates?

    • Daniel Jones says:

      What do you expect from the morons that regard the Senate as government over the people, against the people, in spite of the people?

  7. Bob Eddy says:

    Yes, withhold his confirmation for purely political reasons until it becomes obvious that they will have no say in the event that a Democratic controlled Senate and a Democratic President are elected. Only in the delusional mind of a right wing dip shyt would that be considered being fair to him. Every time we think they can go no lower, they manage to sink a little deeper.

  8. #DoYourJob

    The U.S. Senate (DEMs & GOP) just doesn’t get it! The argument that the Constitution doesn’t really require the Senate to act on advise and consent is obviously false. Likewise, the argument that DEMs did it, and would do it again if the tables were turned, is silly and childish.

    This kind of “tit for tat” behavior is what has demeaned the sometimes called “worlds greatest deliberative body” to the likes of a school yard brawl. It is precisely the reason that has led to rise in popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders — both sides want action for their positions — but nothing happens because of gummed up, arcane rules and procedures that prevent majority rule and discourage bipartisan action on anything. Unfortunately, the election of either Trump or Sanders is not going to fix the problem and their lofty promises for change will end up in the typical trash can of political rhetoric.

    The Constitution and the Founders certainly envisioned the Senate to provide an “advise and consent” role to appointments, treaties, etc. — otherwise they wouldn’t have included it. The Senate also has specific rules on how it carries out its advise and consent responsibilities — Judiciary Committee hearing(s) and referral to the full Senate for a vote. The only argument seems to be whether they can delay their responsibilities indefinitely.

    Taken to the extreme, the idea that the Senate does not have to provide an “advise and consent” role on appointments, treaties, etc would bring government to its knees and deny the public its right to a functioning government. In effect, it would instill in the Senate and extreme power over the Executive Branch not envisioned in the intricate system of “checks and balances” included in the Constitution.

    Further, the “Senate” is a body of 100 members. Even if for arguments sake, the Constitution envisioned that the Senate did not have to exercise an “advise and consent” role, the “Senate” as a body has not expressed its decision to take this extreme course of refusing to act. So far as I know, this is simply the individual decision of the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Certainly, the Constitution and Founders did not envision giving such extreme power to one individual — not even the President of the United States and certainly not the Senate Majority Leader.

    If the “Senate” is going to take such extreme action it should at least put a roll call vote on record that it is the decision of the body and not the decision of one lone Senator.

    Next, we must ask, if the Senate does not act in accordance with the Constitution, what public recourse is available to challenge or correct their action. Most scholars say the Senators are immune to legal action (even for doing nothing) and the public lacks standing to sue.

  9. Thomas Martin says:

    McConnell and his associates in the Senate have painted themselves into a mess because of hatred. It would have been much wiser to simply meet with Garland, conduct hearings, and vote. It would have been over with by now and we all could focus on other things. Congress is so disengaged with reality they have become a hazard to the American public and the world.

  10. Steven Visek says:

    You folks do realize this was the plan from day one right? McConnell plays the heavy and says there will be no vote. The Repub Senators up for election complain and say there should be hearings and a vote. McConnell says too bad. The Senators get to look reasonable to their voters, and maybe even suggest that they might not want McConnell as their leader in 2017, and meanwhile no hearings and no vote. Dems had no issue with these tactics when it was Harry Reid ruling the Senate, so now McConnell gets to play Bad Cop and take the heat while giving cover to his fellow Repub Senators.

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