- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican Sen. John Boozman met Tuesday with President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court but said the visit didn’t change his opposition to filling the high court vacancy this year.

The Arkansas Republican said he met for about 20 minutes with federal appeals Judge Merrick Garland at the White House’s request. However, he said the sit-down didn’t reverse position that the next president should choose the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I really wanted to convey in person my position that the next president should be the person that fills the vacancy,” Boozman said in an interview with The Associated Press after the meeting. “That’s what we talked about and the fact that my position is firm, I’m not supporting going forward with hearings or a vote or anything of that nature.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also met with Garland on Capitol Hill for more than an hour and said afterward she was “more convinced than ever” there should be hearings on the nominee. But top Senate Republicans have held firm that they will block Garland, a move that conservative activists have cheered.

Boozman was first elected in 2010 and is running for re-election this fall against Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor who has criticized the Republican lawmaker’s stance on the Garland nomination. Arkansas’ other senator, Republican Tom Cotton, has also said he’s opposed to considering Garland this year.

Eldridge on Tuesday accused Boozman of not leading on the issue and said the Senate should hold hearings on Garland’s nomination.

“I think that really any Supreme Court nominee by any president ought to receive thorough vetting and consideration by the Senate,” Eldridge told the AP.

Boozman said the two didn’t talk substantively about legal issues. Last week, he said he believed Garland would be a “reliable fifth vote” for liberals on the court, criticizing the judge as siding too much with federal agencies in his rulings.

“I think there’s a benefit in him understanding that I am very concerned about the process and the fact that the next president needs to be the person that makes the nomination,” Boozman said.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo


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