Georgia’s two senators said they will consider Supreme Court nominees based on their individual merits in the new year, effectively rejecting a strategy some Republican colleagues have floated should Hillary Clinton win the presidency on Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is running for a third term, said should he and Clinton win this week he will “consider who she nominates at the time she does and make a decision that’s right for the people of Georgia.”
Here’s what he had to say on the sidelines of a GOP tailgate in Augusta on Friday:
“The most important responsibility the United States Senate has is the confirmation process. It’s the accountability process for the American people. We have one opening now for the Supreme Court and probably may have two more before the first term of this new president is over.
You don’t shirk your responsibility when you’re an elected official. You sanctify your responsibility, and that’s what I’ll do. I’ll consider who she nominates at the time she does and make a decision that’s right for the people of Georgia.
… I consider everything that’s before me to make a decision on and I’ll always try and make a decision in the right way, which is get all the information. If you don’t even hear what somebody’s got to say you don’t have all the information.”
Meanwhile, Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore said the freshman will follow a similar approach:
“Senator Perdue has said all along he believes no Supreme Court nominee should be considered before the next president is sworn into office. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he wants to ensure we have a Supreme Court Justice who will uphold the Constitution, and he will examine each nominee independently based on their merits.”
Their remarks come as a few high profile Senate Republicans, including John McCain and Ted Cruz, and some conservative groups have proposed indefinitely blocking any Clinton Supreme Court nomination in order to stonewall any further ideological changes to the court. Other GOP senators, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have rejected the idea.
Both Georgia senators have fallen in line behind their Republican leaders regarding the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year. Neither man has scheduled a customary meeting with President Barack Obama’s pick Merrick Garland, and both have argued that the new president should make the appointment — a stance Isakson briefly had to answer to on the campaign trail.
For his part, Isakson said that if Clinton wins the presidency, he expects the Senate will confirm Garland before January. Many Republicans fear that Clinton would nominate a more liberal justice, swinging the ideological balance of the court even further to the left.