Maine’s U.S. senators could play key roles in the fate of President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court as a partisan battle looms.

Sen. Angus King is an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Republican Sen. Susan Collins is viewed as a moderate.

The nomination of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado sets up a fight with Democrats still angry that the Republican-controlled Senate delayed a vote on former President Barack Obama’s choice for the seat left empty by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Democratic leaders have stopped shy of committing to a filibuster to try to prevent a vote, but that hasn’t prevented talk of such tactics.

“It was certainly unfortunate to see a couple of Democratic senators, before they even knew who the nominee was going to be, say that they were going to filibuster,” said Collins, who previously voted for Gorsuch’s appointment to the federal bench.

With 52 Senate Republicans, the GOP would need help from Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold to end any filibuster.

King said he’ll approach the nomination the same way he did when Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. King said he’ll carefully evaluate Gorsuch’s philosophy and temperament “and make an independent judgment.”

Collins, for her part, urged her Republican colleagues to meet with Garland and urged the Senate to follow the normal process and hold a hearing for Garland.

But Republican leaders declined to schedule any hearings, and most refused to meet with Garland, contending last year that the new president to nominate a judge.

Collins said she once again hopes that the normal process is followed. Even though she supported Gorsuch previously, she said she wants to re-evaluate him.

“I look forward to the Senate proceeding to the next step in this process by holding public hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will help provide a careful, thorough vetting of this nominee’s record,” she said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: