GOP Senators Are Already Saying They Will Block Merrick Garland’s Nomination

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, receives applauds from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, receives applauds from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS

Just minutes after President Obama formally nominated Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Sen. Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to demand that lawmakers from his party obstruct the nomination.

McConnell claimed that Obama made this nomination to “politicize it,” and that the Senate should not confirm a nominee until after the 2016 election.

“Give the people a choice in filling this vacancy,” he said. “The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that may be.”

McConnell also mentioned a clip of Joe Biden highly cited by Republican Senators, which they claim shows Biden urging President George H.W. Bush not to nominate a Supreme Court Justice during the 1992 election, should a seat on the court become vacant. But Biden’s full speech undermines their claim. Rather than urging his colleagues to deny Bush’s potential nominee a hearing, Biden was bemoaning the politicization of the confirmation process.


McConnell was not the only Senator to immediately respond to the nomination, promising obstruction. Here are all of the other GOP senators who have responded to the news of Garland’s nomination, broken into two categories — those who said they won’t consider Garland’s nomination, and those who said they will.

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos
CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos

Senators who won’t consider Garland because they think the next president should decide:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Hatch once said there was “no question” Garland could be confirmed

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Sen. Steve Danies (R-MT)

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)

Rounds posted a video in which he says: “I agree with my colleagues on the judiciary committee and in the Senate leadership that we should not hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until after our new president takes office.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

“We stand at a pivotal point in our nation’s history,” Gardner wrote. “The Obama Administration continues to use the judicial and regulatory systems to push through its legislative agenda, shifting the balance of power that our Founders established. That is why the next president of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court…. Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process as the next Supreme Court Justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R- NC)

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

“The next Supreme Court justice will make decisions that affect every American and shape our nation’s legal landscape for decades,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, the current Supreme Court vacancy should be filled by an individual nominated by the next President of the United States.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

“The American people should have the opportunity to make their voices heard before filling a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court,” Wicker wrote in a statement. “In November, the country will get that chance by choosing a new President — a process that is well underway. Until then, our time should be spent addressing the many other legislative matters before us to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and secure our nation.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

“The American people need to have an opportunity to voice their opinion at the ballot box as to what kind of judge they want to replace Justice Antonin Scalia,” he said in a statement.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)

“Based on previous historical precedent, I support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s intent to give the American people a say in Justice Scalia’s replacement this year at the ballot box,” he said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

“This issue is not about any single nominee — it’s about the integrity of the Court,” McCain wrote in a statement. “With less than a year left in a lame-duck presidency and the long-term ideological balance of the Supreme Court at stake, I believe the American people must have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court by electing a new president. The last time the American people spoke, they elected a Republican majority to the Senate to act as a ‘check and balance’ on President Obama’s liberal agenda — a responsibility I cannot ignore. We must allow the people to play a role in selecting the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

“A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged contests,” Grassley said in a statement. “As Vice President Biden previously said, it’s a political cauldron to avoid.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

“Diven the timing of this vacancy, in the middle of a Presidential election and in an increasingly toxic political environment, I had urged the President to refrain from naming a nominee,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “I believe he should have left that task to the next administration.”  Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)

One of the most important responsibilities of a United States Senator is to provide “advice and consent” on the…

Posted by Senator Dan Coats on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

“The next President should fill the open seat on the Supreme Court, not a lame duck,” he wrote. “Our nation is in the middle of an election that will replace this president and it has brought people out in every corner of our country in record numbers to have their voice heard.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

“By nominating a replacement for Justice Scalia, President Obama is attempting to deny the American people a voice on the next Supreme Court justice,” Roberts wrote. “The next justice will have an effect on the courts for decades to come and should not be rushed through by a lame-duck president during an election year. This is not about the nominee, it is about giving the American people and the next president a role in selecting the next Supreme Court justice.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)

“The President has a Constitutional right to nominate a candidate to fill this vacancy, but the Senate has made it clear that we do not intend move forward on it,” Boozman wrote in a statement. “The Constitution clearly defines the roles of each branch and the President’s ends with selecting a candidate for the vacancy.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

“In a few short months, we will have a new President and new Senators who can consider the next Justice with the full faith of the people,” Cotton wrote. “Why would we cut off the national debate on the next Justice? Why would we squelch the voice of the populace? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the make-up of the Supreme Court? There is no reason to do so. I respect President Obama’s right to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. But the stakes are high and we cannot rush this decision. This nomination should not be considered by the Senate at this time.”

Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

“This debate is not about Judge Garland,” Alexander told a local reporter. “It’s about whether to give the American people a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

Corker also told a local reporter he would not consider the nomination. “On a bipartisan basis, members of Congress have stated that filling a Supreme Court vacancy that occurs during the president’s last year in office is not the right thing to do,” he said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement. “The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

“The Senate has long-since resolved to wait before considering any nominee,” Sessions said through a spokesman. “Despite the dog and pony show from the White House, no nominee will receive a hearing, and Senator Sessions’ focus is appropriately elsewhere at this time. The issue will be revisited in January.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

“The president’s nominees have pushed our country to the left by supporting the president’s agenda,” Cassidy said in a statement. “I don’t support the president’s agenda. I don’t support the president’s nominees.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)

“It is crucial for Nebraskans and all Americans to have a voice in the selection of the next person to serve a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, and there is precedent to do so,” she said in a statement. “Therefore, I believe this position should not be filled until the election of a new president.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

“I’ve been clear that I believe the American people deserve the opportunity to have their voice heard in selecting the next Supreme Court justice,” he said in a statement.“When the people make that choice, I’m ready to proceed.”


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Rubio told reporters: “I know enough about his record to know that I wouldn’t support him.”

“Given his record, I wouldn’t vote for that guy under any circumstances,” Risch said in a radio interview.

Senators who are open to considering Garland:

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Ayotte said she would meet with Obama’s pick, but then also tweeted:

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Kirk said that he would assess President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee “based on his record and qualifications.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

“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.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Cochran told a reporter that he “will give any consideration to a nominee. It’s a very important position.” But then he added:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Portman told a reporter he’s “not in the habit of turning down meetings” but then said the meeting wouldn’t be a “good use of the judge’s time.”


“This is about the principle, not the person,” Portman said in a statement. “I believe that awaiting the result of a democratic election, rather than having a nomination fight in this partisan election-year environment, will give the nominee more legitimacy and better preserve the Court’s credibility as an institution. After the election, I look forward to considering the nominee of our new president. Whether the American people elect a Republican or Democrat, I will judge his or her nominee on the merits, as I always have.”

Senators who have not yet responded to the nomination:

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)This post will be updated as more GOP senators respond.