GOP Sen. Murkowski Backtracks On Giving Obama’s SCOTUS Nom A Hearing

Tom Williams/CQPHO

Moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), one of the few Republicans initially willing to break ranks on whether President Obama’s nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia should be considered, reversed course Thursday evening. In a series of Tweets she said “the American people will be weighing in on the direction of SCOTUS” in the upcoming election and that Obama should “allow his successor to select the next Supreme Court justice.”

Murkowski previously told reporters that Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia deserved at least some level of Senate consideration in the form of a hearing, even if the Senate ultimately decided not to bring him or her to the vote.

“I do believe that the nominee should get a hearing,” Murkowski said Wednesday, according to a report in the Alaska Dispatch News. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that that ends up in a vote. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not this individual, based on their record … should be named to the highest court in the land.”

Since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) signaled almost immediately after reports of Scalia’s death that he intended to delay any confirmation proceedings until after a new president is inaugurated, most of his fellow Republicans — who also face pressure from outside conservative groups — have fallen into line.

As for the “tradition embraced by both parties” Murkowski referred to in her Tweet Thursday, the historical record of the last century shows no such tradition. According to SCOTUSblog, at no time since 1900 has the Senate failed to confirm a nominee purely because a presidential election was less than a year away and five nominees were confirmed by the Senate within a presidential election year.

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