More Splintering In GOP As Key Senators Agree To Meet With SCOTUS Nominee

Within hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, Republican Senate leadership proclaimed that they will not confirm any nominee President Barack Obama selects. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stated:

The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Many other Republicans fell in line and let Americans in on an unknown, unwritten Senate rule — they cannot confirm a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.

Obama, knowing the Constitution better than these Republican senators, proceeded with his selection process. Only a couple of ‘brave’ senators were quickly willing to break ranks with their leadership, including Sens. Mark S. Kirk (R-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Collins believes that whenever a president nominates a justice for the Supreme Court, the Senate must give that nominee “careful consideration.”

With Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland on Wednesday, some Republican senators proclaimed that this announcement was “dead on arrival.” McConnell even made a phone call to the nominee, but reportedly the Senator:

“reiterated his position that the American people will have a voice in this vacancy and that the Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the person the next president nominates. And since the Senate will not be acting on this nomination, he would not be holding a perfunctory meeting.”

Though Senate Republicans are staying true to their party–really to the lobbyist and special interest groups who are in their pockets–a few more senators besides Kirk and Collins have stepped forward to, at the very least, meet with Garland.

The additional senators who are splintering from the GOP include, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Roy Blunt (R-MI), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). What is interesting is:

What these senators all have in common is that they represent blue states or swing states. Recent polls show that obstruction of Obama’s SCOTUS nomination is unpopular in those states and may even threaten the GOP’s hold on the Senate.”

Also of note, is that Ayotte and Kirk are facing re-elections this year and certainly do not want their democratic opponents pointing out that they were unwilling to meet their constitutional duty. At least they can argue that they tried to fight their leadership on this issue.

Another senator, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), agreed that he will meet with Obama’s nominee. Inhofe agrees, however, with McConnell, that the vacant seat should be filled by the next president.

If the Republicans continue with their obstruction to confirming Garland, they will make every attempt to make the presidential general election all about the Supreme Court. This may not end up well for them.

As Collins stated when telling reporters that she doesn’t see McConnell budging on this issue:

The irony, however, will be if the next president, whoever that may be, ends up nominating a person who is far more liberal than Judge Garland, who is considered to be a centrist.”

Though many senators are unwilling to break ranks, some are agreeing they will quickly confirm Garland during the lame-duck period if a Democrat is elected president. So much for that unspoken Congressional rule.

Featured image by jfxgillis under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License