Supreme Court meetings fail to sway Republicans

Greg Nash
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland was back on Capitol Hill Tuesday trying to win over GOP senators, but there’s little proof the administration’s charm offensive is working. 
“The judge is without a doubt a very, very smart, very knowledgeable, very pleasant individual, [but] I am more convinced now than I was before that this is a choice that should be made by the next president,” Sen. Pat Toomey told reporters after his meeting Tuesday evening. 
{mosads}The Pennsylvania Republican suggested he specifically had concerns about Garland’s ability to check overreach from the executive branch.
Toomey was one of three Republicans, along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who sat down with Garland Tuesday. 
Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, reiterated after his breakfast with the president’s pick that he’s standing behind his party’s strategy to block Garland from getting a hearing or a vote. 
During the meeting Grassley “explained why the Senate won’t be moving forward during this hyper-partisan election year,” according to a readout from his office. 
Meanwhile, a Murkowski spokeswoman said the Alaska senator “continues to respect the Judiciary Committee’s decision not to hold hearings.” 
Asked by reporters if she still supports leaving the court seat temporarily vacant, Murkowski said “my quest today with Judge Garland was to find out what he knows about Alaska issues that are important to me.” 
Of the six Republicans who have met with Garland so far, only Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who faces a tough reelection bid, and Susan Collins (R-Maine) support giving him a hearing. 
The third, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), used his sit-down to reiterate why he believes the Supreme Court seat should remain empty. 
Garland is scheduled to meet with Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) later this week. The three senators support their party’s current strategy, though Flake has suggested he would be open to considering him in the lame-duck session if Republicans lose the election in November.
Approximately 17 GOP senators have said they are open to meeting with Garland. Most, however, are casting any powwow as a “courtesy” where they’ll reiterate the current GOP position.
Democrats leadership, however, remains adamant that Garland will get confirmed, it’s just a matter of when. They’ll need the support of more than a dozen GOP senators to get him over procedural hurdles.
They argue that polling data, as well as the slow uptick of senators meeting with the nominee, helps underscore that momentum in the weeks-long fight is on their side. 
They’re also hoping that a constant mountain of pressure — particularly on Grassley and vulnerable incumbents — will force Republicans to cave. 
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly pounced on Grassley, who evaded reporters around his breakfast meeting Tuesday, suggesting he is under pressure in the court fight. 
“That meeting was held in private, far away from the public eye,” he added. “These are not actions of a senator and a chairman who is confident with his decision to block a Supreme Court nominee.”
A separate Instagram post from Grassley about his meeting was quickly dogged by overwhelmingly negative comments telling the Judiciary chairman to “do your job” and take up Garland’s nomination. 
Republicans, however, are brushing off talk of Democratic gains in the entrenched fight. They point out that there hasn’t been an increase in the number of GOP senators who publicly support hearings.
Grassley fired back at Reid later Tuesday, suggesting he was mad because “his side is forced to play by its own rules.” 
“I’m not going to dwell on his daily message. Most of us around here have grown used to it and don’t pay him much mind, especially given his record,” he added. 
Tags Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Jeff Flake John Boozman Kelly Ayotte Lisa Murkowski Mark Kirk Rob Portman Susan Collins

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