President Obama’s nomination this morning of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia has immediately fractured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist coalition. Eight Republican Senators, realizing the hypocrisy and dereliction of duty the McConnell’s vow to hold no meetings or confirmation hearings for Obama’s pick entails, have broken ranks and announced that they will meet with Mr. Garland. The eight GOP Senators standing up to McConnell’s dangerous obstructionism are: Susan Collins (ME), Jeff Flake (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), Jim Inhofe (OK), Chuck Grassley (IA), Thad Cochran (MS), Kelly Ayotte (NH), and Mark Kirk (IL).
Admittedly, some of these Senators are defying McConnell in a symbolic rather than substantive way, with Portman, Grassley, and Inhofe agreeing only to a “meeting” with Garland while still vowing to block his nomination at all costs. Susan Collins, on the other hand, made a bold gesture for principles over politics in saying that she will give Garland unbiased consideration, explaining that she “views it as [her] job.” Collins’ “view” is indeed correct – it IS the job of the Senate to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominees, no matter if it is an election year or not.
Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, who even after Obama’s nomination of the moderate Garland have remained intransigent on ignoring the nominee in an effort to ram their far-right ideology down the country’s throat, are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people and to the constitutional principles that they supposedly hold so dear.