Rhetoric battle over Garland SCOTUS nomination flares up in U.S. Congress

    Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as ObamaÂ?s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Even before President Obama approached the podium in the Rose Garden Wednesday morning, the battle over his nominating Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court was brewing.

    Speaking with Sinclair prior to the President's address, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), told Sinclair Wednesday that the the nomination of Garland will not influence his belief that this is not a time for President Obama to nominate Scalia's replacement.

    Asked if this particular nominee changes his position, Hatch told Sinclair it does not "at this point."

    "To be honest with you, I don't think we should bring any nominee up in this toxic environment," Hatch disclosed.

    "Our nation is in the middleof an election that will replace this president and it has brought people out in every corner of our country in record numbers to have their voice heard," Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), described in a statement.

    "As elected officials, we need to protect the American people's chance to have their voices heard in the decision on who will be appointed to a lifetime seat on the nation's high court."

    Describing how the United States is at a "critical juncture in our nation's history," Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a statement that while President Obama "has the constitutional authority," to make a nomination "the Senate also has the authority and responsibility to determine how to move forward with it."

    RELATED:Obama nominates Judge Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

    "The next justice could change the ideological makeup of the Court for a generation, and fundamentally reshape American society in the process," Cornyn said.

    "The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy."

    Cornyn's argument that the vacancy be filled by the next President has been made often by conservative lawmakers as the debate over whether President Obama should nominate the late Justice Antonin Scalia's successor raged on.

    The debate over the nomination began soon after the conservative judge's passing.

    As Politico described, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), threw "down the gauntlet," on Scalia's replacement quickly, saying "the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until after the 2016 election."

    Politico noted the McConnell's suggestion came "about an hour after Scalia's death in Texas had been confirmed," and that it "stunned White House officials," who had expected McConnell to "block their nominee with every tool at his disposal, but didn't imagine the combative GOP leader would issue an instant, categorical rejection of anyone Obama chose to nominate."

    Obama had consistently pledged to uphold his "constitutional duty," to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme court and said during the announcement of his decision that it s a responsibility the he does not take lightly.

    In a statement regarding the nomination, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) stressed the need for the Senate to fulfill their own constitutional obligation.

    "When each one of us took the oath of office, we swore to support and defend the Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of a Senator," Murphy said.

    "If Senate Republicans refuse to consider the president's nominee, they will be willingly violating the spirit of that sworn oath," Murphy alleged.

    "They will be dragging the Supreme Court down into the political muck and compromising the independence and effectiveness of the nation's highest court."

    Noting how it is the Senate's "Constitutional obligation," to give Garland "due and proper consideration," Senator Angus King (I-Maine) said in a statement that he intends "to carefully review Mr. Garland's record and evaluate his character, intellect and judicial temperament."

    "I hope all of my colleagues - regardless of their politics - will join me by doing the same," King concluded.

    Senator Barbara Boxer (D - California) also expressed hope that GOP Senators "will give [Garland] the hearing he deserves."

    "The Senate must do its job and begin the process of filling the seat - especially with such a fantastic nominee," Boxer said on Twitter.

    Commending President Obama on his nomination of Garland, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-New York) said noted that "over the course of his career," Garland "has accumulated the judicial experience and legal acumen needed to serve on the Supreme Court."

    "There is no question Chief Judge Garland will be a thoughtful and prudent jurist and will be a distinguished addition to the bench."

    During his announcement, Obama also touted Garland's accomplishments. Obama noted that during his confirmation process Garland "earned overwhelming bipartisan praise from Senators and legal experts alike."

    It was an observation also made by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) who wrote on Twitter that Garland has received support from Democrats and Republicans in the past.

    RELATED:Tim Kaine: Merrick Garland is a well-respected jurist

    That support, Kaine said leaves the Senate GOP "no excuse for obstructing confirmation process."

    Obama noted that Hatch, who at the time was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supported his nomination.

    "In all honesty I would like to see one person come to this floor and say one reason why Merrick Garland does not deserve this position," Obama quoted Hatch saying at the time.

    "He actually accused fellow Senate Republicans trying to obstruct Merrick's confirmation of playing politics with judges," Obama recounted.

    "And he has since said that Judge Garland would be a consensus nominee for the Supreme Court, who would be very well supported by all sides, and there would be no question Merrick would be confirmed with bipartisan support."

    RELATED:Merrick Garland: A closer look at Obama's reported Supreme Court nominee

    Though Hatch insisted that it was more about the timing than the person.

    "That's never been the issue to me," Hatch said.

    "I have no doubt that the President would appoint somebody who he thinks is very good. But the timing of this is right in the middle of one of the most horrific presidential campaigns, and I'm sick and tired of Supreme Court nominations being the middle of nothing but a big political brou-haha," Hatch said.

    In a statement reacting to the nomination, Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) said that "the Constitution is clear: the President shall nominate judges to the Supreme Court, but the power to grant, or withhold, consent of such nominees rests exclusively with the United States Senate."

    "What's at stake here is the balance of our nation's highest court and the direction of our country for decades," Perdue wrote.

    Describing the "lasting impact on the future of the Court and our nation," of a Supreme Court nomination, fellow Georgia SenatorJohnny Isakson also highlighted the Senate's "Constitutional obligation of advice and consent to the president's nominations."

    "The Constitution gives the responsibility of Supreme Court appointments to two branches of government, not just one,"Isakson stressed.

    "This issue is not about any single nominee - it's about the integrity of the Court," said Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) in a statement.

    "With less than a year left in a lame-duck presidency and the long-term ideological balance of the Supreme Court at stake, I believe the American people must have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court by electing a new president," McCain explained.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan also stressed that the name of the nominee does not matter.

    "This has never been about who the nominee is," Ryan explained in a statement.

    "It is about a basic principle."

    "Under our Constitution, the president has every right to make this nomination, and the Senate has every right not to confirm a nominee," Ryan described.

    Stating his "full support" of the decision made by McConnell and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to not move forward with the nomination process, Ryan said "we should let the American people decide the direction of the court."

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