The line Senate Republicans have drawn on refusing to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland continues to wiggle as a spokeswoman for GOPers on the Senate Judiciary Committee told Buzzfeed that Republicans “assume the administration will fill out the standard questionnaire submitted for judicial nominations.”
Her statement points to what is typically the next step in the Supreme Court nomination process. However, the spokeswoman, Beth Levine, repeated GOP leadership’s stance that “a majority of the Senate has made clear that the American people should have an opportunity to weigh in on this vacancy.”
As part of the usual process for Supreme nominations, a personalized questionnaire is exchanged between the Judiciary staff, which holds hearings on judicial nominees, and the White House for the nominee to fill out so Senators can prepare for the hearings. According to the Buzzfeed report, the White House has yet to receive a personalized questionnaire from either the office of Judiciary Chariman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) or ranking Dem Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT). However, it cheered the signal that Republicans were expecting to receive a standard questionnaire in a statement to Buzzfeed that said it was “heartened by this development.”
The White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffin added that they “look forward to the Committee making this request directly to the nominee as well as to the White House, as is standard practice.”
Almost immediately after Justice Anthony Scalia died in February, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Senate consideration of his successor should wait until after the next president is elected. Following his lead, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee vowed to not even hold a hearing.
The White House, meanwhile, has attempted to stick with the normal process for putting forth a nominee, announcing the selection of Garland about a month after Scalia’s death. The administration and outside groups have also sought to keep the pressure on Republicans to back down from their blockade, while conservative groups have urged GOP Senators to stick to it.