In recent weeks, two Republican senators who had previously expressed their support for the Senate giving fair consideration to the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, have now both backtracked from their initial positions.
In February, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was the first Republican senator to support hearings for the president’s nominee, but did an about-face just days later. Similarly, after Sen. Jerry Moran (Kansas) said in late March “I have my job to do” and that “the process ought to go forward,” he faced a hostile response from extremist right wing groups and obediently reversed his position. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that after Moran’s initial comments,
The Judicial Crisis Network announced it was putting the finishing touches on an advertising campaign bashing Moran, and the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund said it was considering backing a primary challenger.
On the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Harry Reid slammed the GOP senators for reversing course.
“Senator Moran’s backtracking is especially alarming because it appears to be the result of a multi-million dollar campaign urging the Senator to reverse his support for a hearing for Judge Garland,” Reid said. “Senator Moran was for meeting with Merrick Garland and holding confirmation hearings until the Judicial Crisis Network and the Tea Party Patriots threatened him. It will surprise no one to learn that the Koch brothers and their dark money help fund both of these radical organizations.”
The conservative, moneyed backlash came all because Sen. Moran “dared to do his job,” Reid said, asking if the GOP had become “a party dictated by menace and intimidation.”
Sen. Reid wrapped up his remarks by noting that he hopes other GOP senators will not follow suit: “Instead of caving to the Republican leader and the Koch brothers, it’s time for Republican senators to take a stand.” The American people, Reid said, want Republican senators to stop “cowering” and simply do their jobs.
Indeed, polling shows that Americans across the political spectrum want GOP senators to give Judge Garland fair consideration. A national Monmouth University poll last month found that nearly seven in ten Americans want the Senate to hold hearings, including 56 percent of Republicans. Perhaps even more revealing: 62 percent of Republicans believe that GOP leadership’s obstructionist stance is “mainly a political ploy.”