WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland (L) talks with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. Garland is meeting with senators today while visiting Capitol Hill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo: Chip Somodevilla
Photo: Chip Somodevilla

Brown meets with Garland, declares support

Portman says he will hold ‘courtesy’ meeting with court nominee.

The two met for about half an hour in Brown’s Washington, D.C., office, part of a marathon day in which Garland met with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

Brown, D-Ohio, said afterward that the two discussed Garland’s nomination and qualifications, as well as personal matters. He had been leaning toward supporting Garland, but the meeting sealed the deal, he said.

Brown is not a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has refused to hold hearings on the nomination. His first chance to support Garland will be on the floor of the Senate.

He called the fact that Senate Republicans have balked at taking up Garland’s nomination “reprehensible.”

“Never in history has a person been nominated Supreme Court Justice and the Senate just absolutely refused to do its job,” he said.

Brown said the last time a Supreme Court position has been vacant for a year — as it would be if no justice is appointed until the next president takes office — was 150 years ago. That was because of the Civil War.

Brown believes Senate Republicans will ultimately pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to put Garland’s nomination on the floor to vote on it.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also plans to meet with Garland. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 at 9:45 a.m.

But unlike Brown, Portman says the vacancy should be filled after the next president is elected. “My view is that it would be better to allow this decision to be made in the context of the presidential election where people would be able to weigh in,” Portman said during a conference call earlier this week.

Portman, who doesn’t sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee either, said the next justice “could reshape the Supreme Court for generations.”

“I think it’s better to have this happen in the context of the presidential campaign where candidates can talk about the kind of judge that they would nominate and the American people would be in a position to weigh in on this.”

He called his meeting with Garland a “courtesy.”

Portman’s stance has spurred Democrats — who hope to take his Senate seat in November — to smell blood.

“Portman should drop his blatant obstructionism, do his job and consider the Supreme Court nominee,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten.”

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