- The Washington Times
Sunday, March 20, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell broke with members of his caucus Sunday by ruling out a potential vote on President Obama’s pick to replace late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the lame-duck session after November’s elections.

Mr. McConnell said the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, would move the high court “dramatically to the left” for a quarter century, so he doesn’t think a Republican majority in the Senate would confirm him, even if Democratic nomination front-runner Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.

“Barack Obama calling this judge a moderate doesn’t make him a moderate,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Obama nominated Judge Garland, 63, on Wednesday to fill the vacancy created by last month’s death of Scalia, a staunch conservative.

Judge Garland has served since 1997 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republicans contend the voters should have a say by electing a new president this fall to pick a nominee.

The leader has said he won’t meet with Judge Garland, although a handful of other Republican senators have agreed to meet with him, and leading Democrats say Mr. McConnell eventually will crack under public pressure in a tough election year.

Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican facing a tight re-election battle, said his colleagues should “just man up and cast a vote” on the nominee, while Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said the chamber ought to push Judge Garland through late this year — should the GOP lose the White House race — instead of risking a more liberal pick from Mrs. Clinton.

Fox host Chris Wallace asked Mr. McConnell if the Arizonan’s position is wrong.

“Yeah, I think so,” the Senate leader said.

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