Within hours of Scalia’s death on Feb. 13, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell pledged that no Obama nominee would get a hearing or a vote for nearly a year. The people should have a voice in the selection, he said, and “therefore this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” A month later, Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the most centrist of the oft-mentioned potential Democratic nominees. For years, Republicans had called Garland the kind of consensus candidate they could support. But McConnell was able to keep his senators in line, and since the GOP controls the Senate agenda, that meant the Garland nomination remained in total limbo. Transcript And Video: President Obama’s Interview With NPR’s Nina Totenberg An incensed Obama was incredulous, pointing out in an NPR interview that the Senate had never before refused to act for this long on a Supreme Court nomination. Indeed, Garland has long surpassed the record set by Louis Brandeis, who waited 125 days to be confirmed in 1916. At first, it looked as though the GOP stonewalling on the Garland nomination might be a powerful issue for the Democrats. The public agreed with the president by large margins, as much as 70 and 80 percent in some polls. And Democrats thought they could force the GOP to act or pay on Election Day. selection interviewDemocratic pollster Peter Hart thought it would be a linchpin issue not just in the presidential election but for Democrats seeking to retake control of the Senate.
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