GOP Senator On Merrick Garland Hearing: Responsibility To The People Is More Important Than Partisanship

Though Senate Republicans continue to fight against giving the SCOTUS nomination of Merrick Garland a hearing, a few individuals are moving forward and giving the nominee due consideration, with or without the rest of the party. Senator Mark Kirk is one of these, and recently discussed his stance while sharing that President Obama had thanked him for meeting with Judge Garland.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won’t hold a hearing on any Obama appointee to the Supreme Court, and most GOP Senators have either explicitly agreed or held their silence. However, a few have spoken out in favor of giving Judge Garland a hearing.

Merrick Garland hearing may not be necessary
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
The few Republican Senators speaking in favor of a vote or formal hearing are being blasted by the constituency. Even those who are willing to simply meet with Garland are meeting disapproval. For example, Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, has sided with McConnell against a hearing, but said that he would consider the nomination if the November election winner is a Democrat, negating the possibility of a Republican making a new nomination. According to AZCentral, this marks the Senator as “toeing the line” of GOP loyalty.

Senator Mark Kirk, of Illinois, who also met with Judge Garland this week, says that his duty to the people is more important than keeping the parties divided, though. President Barack Obama sent him a brief note, thanking him for “…fair and responsible treatment of Merrick Garland.” Kirk shared the photo on social media, in turn thanking the president and explaining why he joined the meeting.

He, too, was quickly denounced for this by many constituents, both on social media and via news outlets. A letter to the State Journal Register declared that it was no surprise Kirk would consider Garland’s nomination.

“Mark Kirk is not a Republican or a conservative. He is a RINO — Republican in Name Only”

It further said the following.

“People like Kirk are the spoilers of our country who lie and disrupt our whole process of fair and equal government.”

Kirk was one of the first to call for a hearing, saying his colleagues should “man up” and hold a vote.

According to the Senate Democratic Party Communications Center, more than a dozen GOP Senators have now met with Garland, which Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) calls an “evolution.” She says the fact that he’s moving through Capitol Hill, making the rounds and making an impression, is a step toward the normal process of considering the nominee. Collins herself met with the SCOTUS nominee this week (photo below).

Susan Collins says GOP 'evolving' on Merrick Garland hearing
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]
Willingness to meet Garland, however, may not equal a willingness to consider the nomination. A representative for Senator Lindsey Graham, for instance, told the New York Times that he was willing to meet with Judge Garland, but continued to oppose a hearing, and to maintain that the next president should make a nomination.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) has also said that he’ll meet with Judge Garland next week, but he too says that it’s only a courtesy, and that he believes the next president should choose Scalia’s replacement, according to Politico.

The Democratic Party continues to pressure the Senate Republicans to hold a formal hearing and vote, either confirming or denying Judge Garland the position vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

However, refusing to hold a hearing could end up robbing the Senate of the power to do so. According to an opinion written for the Washington Post by attorney Gregory L. Diskant, the language of the Constitution can be read as permitting the President to appoint a SCOTUS Justice without a hearing, by considering the failure to hold a hearing as a “waiver” of that right.

“It is in full accord with traditional notions of waiver to say that the Senate, having been given a reasonable opportunity to provide advice and consent to the president with respect to the nomination of Garland, and having failed to do so, can fairly be deemed to have waived its right.”

The President has not spoken about whether he would exercise such an option if the Senate fails to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination.

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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