In an interview on Sunday, March 20, 2016, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said a Supreme Court nominee could only receive an up or down vote if they receive the blessing of the extremist National Rifle Association.
McConnell told the conservative Fox News Sunday he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”
In reality, the Senate is not in a so-called “lame duck,” which is the period in-between an election and when the newly elected members of Congress are seated. In fact, there are eight months until the next election, and only eight members of the Supreme Court due to the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
President Obama has submitted the nomination of former Oklahoma City bombing prosecutor Judge Merrick Garland to the Senate, but so far Republicans are refusing to do their constitutional duty and give the judge a fair hearing.
Previously, Judge Garland received widespread praise from top Republicans like Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), but now faces obstruction since he was nominated by a Democratic president.
Polls have shown that a majority of voters believe that Judge Garland deserves due consideration by the Senate, and that he should receive an up or down vote. Research has shown that the Republican claim that a Supreme Court nomination in the final year of a presidency does not deserve consideration is not supported by facts.
The refusal to even hold hearings for Judge Garland is unusual. Samuel Alito and John Roberts, Justices nominated by President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, received consideration by Democrats in the Senate. Both men now sit on the Supreme Court, and were part of the court’s 5-4 conservative majority for several years.