Sen. Susan Collins, Maine’s senior U.S. senator, announced on Monday that she believes President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia deserves to get a hearing and an eventual senate vote – up or down.
She and other moderates in her party have broken ranks with the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has been leading the charge to delay any action so that whoever is elected president in November could fill the slot.
“As with all judicial nominees, but especially for a Supreme Court justice, I consider carefully the nominee’s intellect, integrity, qualifications, experience, temperament and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law,” Collins said in the statement issue Monday. “This is the approach I have taken with every judicial nominee who has come before me, some of whom I have supported, and some of whom I have voted against.”
“Should the president send the Senate a nominee, I will give that individual my full attention as I have always done,” the statement said.
In taking a position that the Senate will stall any nomination, McConnell and those agreeing him are attempting to make the Supreme Court open seat a presidential campaign issue. While Collins still reserves the right to vote not to confirm any nominee, she is correct in insisting that the Senate exercise its confirmation authority as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Her approach to this issue is yet another example of the independence and wisdom Maine people expect from their representatives in Washington.