- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2016

Nearly two-thirds of Americans support holding hearings to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, and most support Judge Garland’s confirmation, according to polling released Friday.

Sixty-four percent said Republican leadership in the Senate should hold confirmation hearings to evaluate Judge Garland, and 31 percent said they should not, according to the CNN/ORC poll.

That includes 55 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents who say they should.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has flatly ruled out considering Judge Garland’s nomination this year, citing election year precedent for considering such high-level judicial selections.

Fifty-two percent said they would like to see the U.S. Senate vote in favor of Judge Garland, while 33 percent said they would not.

Eighty percent of Democrats and a plurality of independents, 48 percent to 37 percent, said Judge Garland should be approved. But 54 percent of Republicans said they were against his nomination, with 26 percent in favor.

In general, 57 percent said Mr. Obama should be the one to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, while 40 percent said the next president should be the one to fill the seat.

Again, that question split along party lines. Eighty-five percent of Democrats said Mr. Obama should make the appointment, compared to 26 percent of Republicans.

Senate Republicans have also cited a speech given in 1992 by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Mr. Biden said President George H.W. Bush should delay filling a hypothetical vacancy on the high court until after the presidential election was over.

Mr. Biden tried to refute the argument during a Thursday speech to Georgetown Law students. He said the “Biden rule” “doesn’t exist,” that he was talking about the dangers of nominating an extreme candidate without Senate consultation, and that he made clear he would still go forward with the nomination process.

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