WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has invited Judge Merrick Garland to breakfast, but absent from the menu will be any promise of hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A spokeswoman for Grassley said that the Republican senator spoke with Garland late on Monday and extended the invitation “where they could discuss the nomination and why the Senate will not consider a nominee until the next president takes office.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is in charge of holding hearings on Supreme Court nominees chosen by the president and deciding whether to recommend full Senate confirmation.
Most of the Senate’s 54 Republicans have indicated opposition to confirming any high-court nominee of Obama’s, saying the choice should be made by the next president, who would be elected on Nov. 8 and sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017.
Despite the wall of Republican opposition to Garland, who is considered a moderate federal appeals court judge, Obama and his fellow Democrats continue to push for Senate confirmation this year.
Garland already has made several “courtesy calls” to senators, mostly Democrats, and will continue his visits to Capitol Hill this week.
If he were to be confirmed, Garland - nominated to fill the vacancy created by the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia - would tilt the Supreme Court to the left for the first time in decades.
The race for a replacement for Obama, who is completing his second and final term as president, is in full swing now with billionaire businessman Donald Trump leading two other Republican candidates and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
But it could be weeks or months before the two political parties settle on their respective candidates.
A date for the breakfast meeting has not yet been set, Grassley’s spokeswoman said.