WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter King said Senate Republicans should meet with and hold confirmation hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — and then reject him in committee or in a floor vote.
After Obama announced his nomination of Garland, 63, the chief judge of the District of Columbia Circuit Court, the veteran Seaford Republican broke from the rest of the delegation representing Long Island in Congress, who hewed to their parties’ lines.
King, who has no vote on the nomination as a member of the House, departed from the Republican position set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the Senate should not consider Obama’s nominee.
“There is a constitutional process that should be followed, no matter how you feel about Obama or what should happen in an election year,” King said an interview.
But King rejected the Democrats’ argument that the Senate should confirm Garland, and agreed with McConnell and Grassley that the next president should choose the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“That swing vote is so important,” he said, and people should be able to vote on the next president who will fill the high court vacancy.
Both of New York’s Democratic senators, who would have a vote, on Wednesday, expressed support for Garland and pressed Senate Republicans to hold hearings and vote on his nomination.
“If Merrick Garland can’t get bipartisan support no one can,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “We hope the saner heads in the Republican Party will prevail on Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell to do their job and hold hearings so America can make its own judgment as to whether Merrick Garland belongs on the court.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called it “time for the Senate to do its job, hold hearings, assess his qualifications and vote on his nomination in a timely manner.”