Several more GOP senators say they are willing to meet with President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court seat left open by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
As Breitbart News reported earlier, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Susan Collins said they would be willing to meet with Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Judge Garland is a capable and accomplished jurist,” Collins said in a statement. “The White House has requested that I meet with him, and I look forward to doing so, as has been my practice with all Supreme Court nominees.”
Collins reportedly said she did not think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would cave on considering Garland’s nomination:
I don’t see the majority leader changing his mind on this issue. He believes strongly that this should be a decision made by the next president. I don’t agree with that decision, but I respect it. The irony, however, will be if the next president, whoever that may be, ends up nominating a person who is far more liberal than Judge Garland, who is considered to be a centrist.
“I meet with people,” Flake said. “That’s what I do.”
Flake is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – all the Republican members of which sent a letter last month to McConnell informing him they will not hold any hearings on Obama’s eventual nominee for the vacant seat.
Ayotte said she would meet with Garland as a “courtesy” and to explain her position that she opposes any nomination to the Supreme Court during the presidential race.
“He’s a current appeals court judge and out of courtesy and respect we will certainly meet with him if he would like to meet with me,” Ayotte said. “I would want to explain my position to the nominee…I would want to give him that courtesy.”
According to The Hill, four additional Republican senators – Sen. Mark Kirk, Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Jim Inhofe, and Sen. Thad Cochran – all said they would consider meeting with Garland.
“I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications,” said Kirk.
Inhofe and Cochran both reportedly said they would consider meeting with Garland, but still believe Scalia’s seat should remain empty.
Sen. Roy Blunt reportedly said he “would meet with anybody, but I think it would be a waste of his time.” Blunt added he would probably not accept a meeting with Garland if the White House requested one.
McConnell and Sen. Jon Cornyn said Republicans remain committed to keeping Scalia’s seat vacant. Both added they would not be meeting with Garland.
“This person will not be confirmed, so there’s no reason going through some motions and pretending like it will happen, because it’s not going to happen,” Cornyn said.
Asked whether the Obama administration could do anything to cause McConnell to waver, Cornyn said, “No. We’ve made a decision, and now I think we have to continue to explain to people the principle involved is not about the personality.”