Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina defended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s decision not to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, during the weekly Republican address released Saturday.
Tillis said the vacancy, left by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February, is a unique situation since it comes during the middle of an election year and a replacement shouldn’t be chosen until a new president is sworn in.
The commander-in-chief announced his nomination Wednesday. Top Republicans in the upper chamber said it is their constitutional right to refrain from considering a nominee.
“Justice Scalia was widely admired and respected for defending the original intent of the Constitution and its prescribed separation of powers, and he served as a critical check on President Obama’s executive overreaches,” he said. “While the Constitution allows the president to nominate a Supreme Court justice, our founding fathers also made sure to give the Senate advise and consent authority, to help protect the integrity of our system of checks and balances.”
Democrats have slammed the decision – despite their call to block former President George W. Bush’s nominees during his tenure – saying it’s the Senate’s duty to hold a hearing.
“The president and Democratic leaders aren’t exactly thrilled with giving the American people a voice,” Tillis continued. “And contrary to their claims, the Senate is doing its job and fulfilling its constitutional obligation by deferring consent in order to let the people’s voice be heard.”
He said Democrats should put their differences aside and instead focus on finding bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems.
“Will they join us in doing our jobs on behalf of the American people? Or will they instead seek to further divide our nation by turning the Supreme Court process into a blatantly partisan back and forth?” he said. “Are they going to resort to blocking and sabotaging important legislation and good-faith efforts to help the American people…all in the name of seeking to score cheap political points in an election year?”
Grassley said Thursday he would not rule out meeting with Garland, but would not reconsider holding a hearing.
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