Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Most Voters Want Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court on March 16. (The White House/Wikimedia Commons)
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court on March 16. (The White House/Wikimedia Commons)
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Voters say the U.S. Senate should go forward with confirmation hearings on President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new survey.

It's been almost two months since Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings, saying that choice should be up to the next president. Benton Strong, managing director of communications for the Center for American Progress, said a new poll of voters in five key states, including Pennsylvania, shows Republicans are losing that debate.

"In fact, voters, even more overwhelmingly than a month ago, see that the Senate should go forward and have a hearing and a vote on a Supreme Court nominee," he said. "They think that the president's done his job and now the Senate should do its job."

Almost 70 percent of voters, including majorities of Republicans and conservatives, told the poll they believe Garland should get an up or down vote in the Senate. Moreover, Strong said, voters say a senator's opposition to holding hearings would have a negative impact on their opinion of that senator, including Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey.

"What we found was that 38 percent of people would view him less favorably," Strong said. "That's over the just 20 percent of people who would view him more favorably."

Slightly more than three-quarters of all voters said they are likely to take a candidate's position on the nomination into account when they vote in November.

Strong said the poll also asked whether voters would be more likely to be concerned about the nomination process if a four-to-four split on the court could threaten issues important to them.

"Demographics such as African-American, Latinos, unmarried women, said absolutely," he said, "and larger numbers said we would get engaged in this process because we think that this is very important."

Almost two-thirds of voters polled said they think the reasons for not holding a confirmation hearing are political, not based on a conviction that it's best for the country.

The survey results are online at americanprogress.org.

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