No sooner than President Barack Obama had dropped his nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, and Senate Republican leaders have declared him dead on arrival.
“Co-equal authorities are throughout the Constitution, including Article II, Section 2, where the power to nominate an individual to the Supreme Court is granted to the President and authority is given to the Senate to provide advice and consent. Nowhere in the Constitution does it describe how the Senate should either provide its consent or withhold its consent,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.
Grassley added, “Today the President has exercised his constitutional authority. A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged contests. As Vice President Biden previously said, it’s a political cauldron to avoid.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was equally emphatic. “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.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised Grassley and McConnell for “standing up for the people against Obama’s attempt to intimidate them into rubber-stamping his Supreme Court choice.”
“Senate Leader McConnell and Senator Grassley are right to exercise the Senate’s prerogative to not consider Obama’s nominee during this election season. The presidential election should determine control over the Supreme Court, as that is the people’s decision to make,” Manning added.
In the meantime, cracks are beginning to appear on the Senate Republican front, as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have agreed to have a meeting with Garland, according to Politico.
Are the ranks already breaking on the GOP embargo on Obama’s Supreme Court pick?
Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, contradicted a prior letter he had sent to Obama along with 10 other Senate Republicans saying there would be no hearings on whoever Obama nominated. So much for that.
What’s the point of meeting with Garland if there aren’t going to be any hearings?
As it is, no hearings have been scheduled by Grassley so far to consider Garland’s nomination, without which there is no way for the nominee to get to the floor for any votes before Obama’s term of office expires.
So long as that remains true, all Grassley and McConnell have to do is run out the clock on the nomination. They have one job. Do nothing and let the people decide in November.
Time will tell if they succeed. Grassley and McConnell would have to go back on their words for their plan not to work.