WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid pledged Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would feel political pressure from voters for refusing to hold hearings and a confirmation vote for a Barack Obama Supreme Court nominee.
“He hasn’t seen the pressure that’s going to build. It’s going to build in all the facets of the political constituencies in the country,” Reid told reporters when asked about his promise that McConnell would cave on his current stance.
Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Monday the committee would not hold hearings for any Obama Supreme Court nominee for the remainder of his term. Although most Republicans are standing with McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, a handful of Republicans want to at least see a hearing happen for a nominee.
“We know what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. We know what would happen. A nominee of a Republican president would not be confirmed by a Democratic Senate when the vacancy was created in a presidential election year,” McConnell told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
Democrats lashed out at Republicans, demanding that GOP leadership “do their job.”
Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, a member whose seat is being aggressively targeted by Democrats this year, wants to see confirmation hearings and a vote.
Other races being targeted by Democrats this cycle where the Supreme Court vacancy will likely be pressed are in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Sens. Pat Toomey and Rob Portman, respectively, are running in tough re-elections. However, Toomey and Portman currently stand by McConnell.
“I would like us to do our jobs — [Obama] to do his job. It’s his constitutional prerogative to put forward a nominee and we should provide advice and consent. We can’t provide advice and consent unless he comes forward with a nominee,” Kirk told reporters Tuesday. “We look forward to the best nominee possible. I want to make sure we do our job … we follow the Constitution exactly.”
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, however, was just re-elected to her seat in 2014, but she also insists that Obama’s court nominees receive a hearing.
“Judicial temperament, qualifications, experience, respect for the constitution and the rule of law — the best way to do that in my judgment is public hearings. A review of all of the writings, any previous decisions,” Collins said to reporters on Monday.
She added, “So if it’s a court appointment, if it’s a judge, the kind of thorough process a hearing allows is the best way to evaluate a nominee. Having said that I am not the chairman of the judiciary committee nor am I the leader of the caucus so its not really my call but for my part I think regular order is the best way to proceed.”
North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis hinted last week to a local radio show his concern that the GOP conference could be viewed as “obstructionist” if it attempts to block a Supreme Court nominee.“All we’re trying to say is that based on this president’s action, it is highly unlikely,” Tillis explained. “And if [Obama] puts forth someone that we think is in the mold of President Obama’s vision for America, then we’ll use every device available to block that nomination, wait for the American people to voice their vote in November and then move forward with a nomination after the election and most likely with the next president.”
New York Republican Rep. Peter King argued that if the upper chamber blocks Obama nominees to the court, it would seem like Republicans are scared of something.
“It’s common sense to have hearings and then an up-or-down vote and say why you’re opposing a person,” said King to The Hill. “To just say no [and have] no hearings, no vote, I think that puts us on the defensive. It looks like we’re afraid of something.”