GOP Senators Wavering on SCOTUS Blockade
Better him than a Clinton pick, some believe
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2016 4:50 AM CDT
This photo provided by the US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit shows Chief Judge Merrick Garland in 2013 in Washington.   (US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit via AP)

(Newser) – With polls suggesting the next president is more likely to be Hillary Clinton than somebody who claims he can "Make America Great Again," some Republican senators are wavering on their Supreme Court stance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists that the next president should choose Antonin Scalia's replacement, but some GOP senators are open to confirming Merrick Garland, President Obama's relatively centrist choice, in a lame-duck session after the election, especially if the GOP loses both the presidency and the Senate, the New York Times reports. The Times calls the nomination battle a "rare Washington fight that washes over all three branches of government with the prospect of damaging each of them." In other coverage:

  • In what Democrats say is a sign that pressure is working, some GOP senators have already agreed to meet with Garland, reports Politico, which notes that seven current Senate Republicans voted to confirm Garland to the Washington, DC, circuit court in 1997, although McConnell voted against him.

  • Some groups had hoped for a more liberal choice, or somebody who would make the court more diverse, but Democratic senators aren't quibbling with the choice of Garland, who is seen as a candidate capable of breaking the GOP blockade, reports the Washington Post. "Most justices are able to time their departure from the court so that someone of similar ilk replaces them," says Ed Whelan, a former GOP aide to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "My guess is the White House decided that rolling the dice, that they had the best chance of getting action on the Garland confirmation."
  • But McConnell shows no sign of backing down, the Hill reports. A spokesman says the majority leader spoke to Garland and told him he will not meet with him or hold a hearing on his nomination. "The leader 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," the spokesman says.
(This columnist says Garland is Obama's "sacrificial lamb.")