Mere minutes after President Obama announced his nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy on Wednesday, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans made it clear they were going to continue with their obstructionism and refuse to hold a hearing.
GOP leaders are pretending that their actions are an effort to “let the American people decide,” but 63 percent of the American people say they want a vote on the nominee this year. Not to mention the fact that the American people already expressed their preference by electing President Obama, who is fulfilling his Constitutional duties by nominating Garland.
This intransigence could cost Republicans control of the Senate, as Democrats need to pick up just five seats to take control. Yet in the following eight states, Republican senators are ignoring their voters, who say they’re less likely to re-elect their senator if he or she keeps obstructing President Obama’s nominee.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Ayotte is scrambling to act like she’s not obstructing, while still keeping in step with her party’s leadership. She will meet Garland: “Out of courtesy and respect we will certainly meet with him if he would like to meet with me,” she said on Wednesday.
Yet in a separate statement released on the same day, Ayotte said she’s with McConnell: “I continue to believe the Senate should not move forward with the confirmation process until the people have spoken by electing a new president.”
This led The Concord Monitor to respond forcefully, saying Ayotte “is no longer taking a stand for the American people, as she claims.” Take a look at what New Hampshire voters have to say:
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Portman is trying to walk the same wobbly line as Ayotte, saying he’ll meet Garland, but will not consider his nomination, compelling the Toledo Blade to say Portman and his colleagues have “no justification for refusing to give the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a yes-or-no vote.” Meanwhile, 58% of Ohio voters say they want the SCOTUS vacancy filled this year and 52% say they’re less likely to vote for Portman if he continues obstructing.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Toomey has said he would consider Garland … but only if he’s nominated by the next president. This, despite the fact that 52% of PA voters say his stubborn alignment with obstructionist GOP colleagues make them less likely to vote for him. The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have both criticized Toomey, with the former saying he was “using logic reminiscent of Dr. Seuss.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
In spite of the fact that 53% of his state’s voters saying they’re more likely to vote for Russ Feingold if Johnson supports GOP obstructionism, he’s been all over the map on the Supreme Court vacancy, saying he’d be willing to hold a vote, but wants to leave the matter up to the next president. This led the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to call on him and his GOP colleagues to do their job.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
In North Carolina, 55% of voters believe the SCOTUS vacancy should be filled this year and a plurality say they’re less likely to support Burr if he doesn’t act on it. Nevertheless, Burr has parroted the Republican leadership, claiming he believes the vacancy should not be filled because “the American people deserve a voice.” Somehow Burr and the GOP forget that the American people expressed their voice when they elected Barack Obama president, and are now saying they want him to fill the vacancy.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Blunt has said that if he met with Merrick Garland it would just be a “waste of his time,” ignoring the fact that 56% of his state’s voters are less likely to support him if he won’t consider President Obama’s nominee.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Now, 56% of Arizona voters say they want the Supreme Court vacancy filled this year, but despite the fact that McCain previously voted to confirm Garland, he has said that he will obstruct him because “[w]e must allow the people to play a role.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Despite 56% of Iowa voters saying they’d like the vacancy filled and a plurality saying they’d be less likely to vote for him if he doesn’t hold a hearing, Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Chairman, has said that he’d meet with Garland, but won’t consider his nomination.
Granted, not all these senate races are close at the moment, but this obstructionism is certainly getting Democrats closer to the five seats they need to win back the majority.
Benjamin Armbruster contributed to this article. State graphics by Alex Savard.
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)