U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, broke ranks with Republican leaders on Monday, telling CNN that President Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court should be given a hearing.
Collins, a moderate, was joined by another Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois, who told CNN the nominee should not only get a hearing, but a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has stated publicly that Obama should not name a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13 at the age of 79. McConnell, who has vowed to block any nomination, said the next president should get to choose Scalia’s replacement. Scalia was widely viewed as a staunch and influential conservative justice.
After Scalia’s death, Collins and Senator Angus King, I-Maine, were asked if they would consider an Obama nomination. At the time, King said the Senate is obligated to consider a nominee, while Collins said she would give a nominee her “full attention.”
But on Monday, Collins spoke more forcefully, telling CNN she would consider a nominee from Obama.
“It is the duty of the Senate, under the Constitution, to give our advice and give our consent or withhold our consent,” she told the cable news outlet. “I believe we should follow the regular order and give careful consideration to any nominee that the president may send to the Senate.”
Collins issued an email statement Monday night to the Portland Press Herald that reinforced her position.
“As with all judicial nominees, but especially for a Supreme Court justice, I consider carefully the nominee’s intellect, integrity, qualifications, experience, temperament and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law,” Collins said in the statement. “This is the approach I have taken with every judicial nominee who has come before me, some of whom I have supported and some of whom I have voted against.”
“Should the President send the Senate a nominee, I will give that individual my full attention as I have always done,” Collins said.