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Senate Dems Insist They're Not Waiting for More Liberal Supreme Court Nominee

A full-size replica of the Ark of Noah is seen after it crashed into a moored coast guard vessel in Oslo harbour, Norway June 10, 2016. NTB Scanpix/Gorm Kallestad/ via REUTERS

WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders tamped down speculation today that they’d prefer waiting for Hillary Clinton to nominate a more liberal Supreme Court justice, insisting that they’re totally team Merrick Garland.

“It appears Republicans want their anti-woman, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-everything, anti-middle-class billionaire candidate to determine the balance of the Supreme Court for the next generation,” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) began a media availability outside of a closed policy luncheon on Capitol Hill.

He noted that, per procedure, Garland’s questionnaire was delivered to the Capitol today. “Senators must thoroughly review these documents, then the Senate must do its job and hold a hearing and vote on this good man.”

“Republicans are trying to trick constituents into thinking they are not the party of Trump. Listen to this one. This is classic,” Reid continued. “Junior senator from New Hampshire, Senator Ayotte conceded, ‘I am going to vote for our Republican nominee, but I don’t intend to endorse anyone.’ How do you like that one? That kind of senseless word games isn’t going to fool anybody, not the people in New Hampshire or anyone else.”

“…If Republicans want to prove they’re serious about governing and not wholly the part of Trump, they have one option, and that is to end this pointless obstruction gridlock and confirm Judge Garland now.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who’s expected to be the next Senate Dem leader after Reid retires at the end of this term, called it a “pretty sad day for the Republican Party when the leadership of both houses is running away from their nominee and they run into trouble everywhere, particularly on the Supreme Court.”

Dems said Senate GOP leaders on the Hill today didn’t want to talk about Trump, though Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) answered several questions about the presumptive nominee outside their own policy luncheon. “We have a nominee,” McConnell said. “It looks like he may well be very competitive and we want to win the White House.”

“The Republican strategy on the Supreme Court and the inevitability of Donald Trump being their nominee are intertwined,” Schumer said. “On the one hand, Republicans are trying to wriggle out of the Trump straitjacket they find themselves in. But on the other, they’re doing everything they can to allow Mr. Trump to pick the next Supreme Court justice, one of the most important decisions a president can make. Those two positions just don’t square.”

“If Republicans want to create a little daylight between themselves and their toxic nominee, confirming justice — Judge Garland would be the place to start. As long as Republican senators continue refusing to do their jobs, every anti-Trump remark they make, every time they try to run away from him, as they’re doing this afternoon, rings hollow. Talk is cheap when it comes to Senate Republicans and Donald Trump.”

Pressed on whether Clinton, should she win the White House, should withdraw Garland’s nomination and pick her own Supreme Court nominee, Reid confirmed “I’m a Garland man.”

“I think we should do it beforehand, but whenever I get a chance to vote for Garland, I’ll do it, whether — no matter when it is,” Reid added.

“I agree with Leader Reid. I think he’s be a great member of the Supreme Court, but I’m not going to prejudge what’s going to happen in January,” Schumer said.

“And obviously, if we get the majority or even if — well, if we get the majority, we will spend a lot of time listening to what the new president — President Clinton — has to say. If she were to pick Garland, I think we’d all be very, very happy. If she wouldn’t, obviously we’d give that nominee due consideration.”