So it begins.
Despite Senate Republicans vowing en masse to reject President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and refuse to even bring up the late Antonin Scalia’s replacement for a vote, at least six Republican senators have already said they would at least meet with Merrick Garland, Obama’s newly-announced SCOTUS pick, before rejecting him out of hand.
According to Talking Points Memo, the following six Republican lawmakers have agreed to speak with Garland: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The vast majority have said they would be willing to talk with Garland to explain their positions on filling the vacant SCOTUS seat, even while remaining firm in their belief that the position should not be filled until after the presidential election.
Garland currently serves as chief justice on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and is widely considered a more moderate pick for Supreme Court justice. However, Garland does have a record of being more liberal on Second Amendment rights, and called for a review of a lower court’s rejection of Washington D.C.’s handgun ban.
Despite the GOP’s hard line against confirming any SCOTUS replacement nominated by Obama, the six listed senators began stating their willingness to meet with Garland mere hours after the president announced his nominee late Wednesday morning. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) has repeatedly stated the Senate will not take a vote on an Obama-nominated replacement, saying the seat left by Justice Scalia should be filled by the next president.