LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ two Republican U.S. senators said Wednesday they don’t believe President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, should be considered.
Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton released statements repeating their opposition to the president naming a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in Texas last month.
Obama on Wednesday nominated Garland, the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, for the vacancy and challenged Republicans to drop their opposition to filling the post before the November election.
"The president has a constitutional right to nominate a candidate to fill this vacancy, but the Senate has made it clear that we do not intend move forward on it," Boozman said in a statement.
"The Constitution clearly defines the roles of each branch and the president’s ends with selecting a candidate for the vacancy."
Cotton said he believed that considering Garland before the election would deny voters the chance to weigh in on the court’s direction.
"I respect President Obama’s right to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. But the stakes are high and we cannot rush this decision," Cotton said. "This nomination should not be considered by the Senate at this time."
Former federal prosecutor Conner Eldridge, the Democrat challenging Boozman this fall, criticized the incumbent for his stance and urged the Senate to consider Garland.
"The American people deserve to have this nominee fully vetted so they can make an informed decision and have their voices heard. But, Senator Boozman won’t even listen," Eldridge said in a statement released by his campaign.
"Taxpayers are paying him $174,000 a year (plus benefits) - it seems to me he’s running out of excuses not to work."
Boozman’s campaign dismissed Eldridge’s criticism.
"Senator Boozman takes his constitutional responsibility to advise and consent very seriously," campaign manager Chris Caldwell said in an email.
"Unlike his opponent who believes that the job of a senator means giving President Obama anything he wants"