Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) emerged from an hour-long Tuesday meeting with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland “more convinced than ever” that the Republican-controlled Senate should hold hearings for him.
“The next step in my view should be public hearings before the Judiciary Committee,” Collins told journalists gathered outside their meeting, according to NBC’s Luke Russert.
Collins said she found Garland “impressive” and refused to rule out voting for him if hearings do proceed. She also suggested other Republican senators may change their mind about moving forward with the process if they met with him, according to CNN’s Manu Raju.
Susan Collins calls Garland “impressive,” doesn’t rule out voting for him and says she thinks GOP minds would be changed if they met w him
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 5, 2016
Republican Senate leaders have insisted they will not hold hearings for Garland because they want the presidential candidate elected in November to be able to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Collins and several other GOP senators, including Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), have asked their colleagues to move away from that hardline stance.
The Maine senator argued in a March interview that there was “no basis” for the current blockade, given that President Obama “is our President until next January.”
After meeting with Garland on Tuesday, Collins pointed out that Republican senators could face an even less appealing option should a Democrat win the presidency in November.
“It would be ironic if the next president happens to be a Democrat and chooses someone to Judge Garland’s left,” Collins said, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram.
ME GOP Sen Collins: It would be ironic if the next president happens to be a democrat and chooses someone to Judge Garland’s left
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) April 5, 2016
Garland, a moderate who serves as the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, received praise from politicians on both sides of the aisle in the past.