By Jordan Fabian - 03/16/16 02:48 PM EDT
The White House on Wednesday dismissed the idea of waiting for the lame-duck session of Congress to hold a vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Some Republicans, including longtime Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Froman: Too early to start trade talks with the UK Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics MORE (Utah), floated the possibility of holding hearings on Garland after the November elections.
“There is absolutely no good reason to wait until the lame duck for the Senate to fulfill their duty to the Constitution and to the American people,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
Garland, who has a moderate reputation, could look like a more appealing nominee to the GOP if the party loses control of the Senate or fails to win the White House.
Still, it's not clear whether Republicans will consider Garland at all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPeter Thiel does not make the GOP pro-gay Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday his party is sticking by its position not to hold confirmation hearings or votes on the judge.
The spokesman defended Garland’s qualifications as impeccable and said waiting to consider his nomination for political reasons “would be obstruction on a scale that is unprecedented.”
At the same time, Earnest claimed Obama would not pull Garland’s nomination in favor of a more liberal justice if Democrats do well in November.
“Absolutely,” Earnest replied when asked if Garland was Obama’s first choice for the opening on the court.
“The president has put forward the individual he believes is the best person to fill a Supreme Court vacancy,” he added. “The president stands strongly behind the nominee.”