President Barack Obama told NPR that Republicans are “worried and scared” that their base will “punish them” should they decide to hold hearings and vote on his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat.
“And, you know, one of the most puzzling arguments that I’ve heard from Mitch McConnell and some other Republicans is this notion that the American people should decide — we should let the American people decide, as part of this election, who gets to fill this seat,” Obama said in the interview published Friday, referring to the Senate’s majority leader.
He added that, by winning a national election in 2012, the people “already weighed in” by reelecting him to fulfil the duties of the position for the entirety of another four-year term.
“The bottom line is that there has not been a coherent argument presented” by Republicans, Obama said.
He continued: “The real argument is the one that you made, Nina, which is that they don’t want a Democrat filling the seat, and they are worried and scared about their political base punishing them if they allow a Democrat to fill the seat.”
Obama on Wednesday announced the nomination of US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat left vacant by the late Antonin Scalia.
After Obama’s announcement, McConnell was quick to say he would not even meet with the judge, let alone bend on the suggestion that Republicans would not hold confirmation hearings on the nominee. He said this was based on “principle” and not because of “the person.”
“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell said. “The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”
But other members of his party, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have stated they either would be or would be open to meeting with Garland. Others have suggested that, should former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton win in the November election, they might think of confirming Obama’s nominee during the so-called lame-duck session of Congress.
Garland is seen by court watchers as a centrist or center-left judge, and he has also been known to swing to the right on criminal-justice issues. But some Republicans have rushed to label him a “liberal.”
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