Collins backs hearing for Obama SCOTUS nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies White House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies GOP senators push for clarification on migrant family separations MORE (R-Maine) broke with her party on Monday evening, saying President Obama's Supreme Court nominee should get a hearing. 

"I think the obligation of the Senate is to carefully consider any nominee whom the president submits," she told reporters. "The best way to do that, in my judgement, is public hearings." 
She added that whether a hearing takes place is up to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPruitt’s new problem with the GOP: Ethanol Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems see midterm advantage in new ObamaCare fight Senate Judiciary urges response to sexual harassment in federal courts MORE (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, but noted "the kind of thorough process that a hearing allows is the best way to evaluate a nominee."  
The Maine Republican is one of a handful of GOP senators who have supported President Obama's previous Supreme Court nominees, but she said the White House "has made no outreach whatsoever to me" this time around. Collins is also part of a small number of Republicans who have suggested they would be open to allowing at least a committee hearing on a nominee. 
Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.), who faces a difficult reelection bid in November, wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed that it is his "duty" to vote on Obama's nominee after he or she receives a committee hearing. 
Monday's comments are the latest signs of division among Senate Republicans on how to take on the impending confirmation fight. Democrats argue the mixed messages underscore the fact Republicans will eventually cave to pressure and take up Obama's nominee. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Ky.), however, doubled down on his belief that the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat should remain vacant until after Obama's successor is sworn in. 
"The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I believe that it is today the American people who are best-positioned to help make this important decision — rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most recent national election," he said Monday evening on the Senate floor. 
Grassley told reporters last week he had yet to make a decision on if he would allow Obama's nominee to have a committee hearing.