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What They're Saying in New Hampshire about the Supreme Court Nomination

Leaders in New Hampshire are speaking out and telling Senate Republicans to do their job.

Across New Hampshire, Granite Staters continue to speak out against Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job and give Judge Garland a hearing and vote. From local newspapers to elected officials, New Hampshire voices have sounded a disappointed tone in Senator Ayotte’s decision to inject partisanship into the Supreme Court and in her refusal to carry out certain parts of her job for partisan gain. They have asked Senator Ayotte to follow Senator Shaheen’s lead, and support hearings and a vote for Judge Garland.

Concord Monitor: The game is clear, so let’s not pretend (Editorial). “When Sen. Kelly Ayotte says, ‘I continue to believe the Senate should not move forward with the confirmation process until the people have spoken by electing a new president,’ does any New Hampshire voter believe that’s how she honestly feels? That if Mitt Romney was the president, she would take the very same stand? That this isn’t just the latest maddening chapter in a book Republicans have been writing since 2008? The most frustrating part of this whole mess is that Ayotte seems like a good person with the skills to be a very good senator. She is bright and thoughtful, and when not under the spell of Mitch McConnell seems to genuinely care for her constituents. But it’s painful to watch the way she plays the Washington game.”

Foster’s Daily Democrat: Ayotte Needs To Break Ranks On SUPCO Nominee (Editorial). “The U.S. Senate should never be confused with charm school, but Ayotte's ‘courtesy and respect’ shtick rings more than a little hollow to our ears. Why bother with pleasantries if you have no intention of taking this nomination seriously? Could it be that Ayotte wants to appear polite and reasonable because she, herself, will be facing re-election this November? That's not so far off. Maybe pledges of ‘courtesy and respect’ will be enough to get by. She'll have to take her chances. Meanwhile, a Washington Post-ABC poll released late last month showed Ayotte may not be on the right side of the issue as far as voters are concerned. According to that poll, 63 percent of Americans support holding hearings, while 32 percent said the next president should get to make the Supreme Court nomination. What's also unclear is why Ayotte and other senators in lockstep over blocking Garland's nomination can't simply let this man go through the process, historically noted for its rigor. Some, like Maine's Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, are willing to let Garland take his licks. Collins met with Garland last week. She came away from that meeting ‘more convinced than ever’ that confirmation hearings should be held. According to press reports, Collins grilled Garland on Constitutional issues including executive overreach, Second Amendment cases and separation of powers. Garland is no liberal's dream jurist. By all accounts, he's a brilliant, squeaky clean centrist with an incomparable judicial background…….. We agree it's time to give Garland a hearing. The irony of this obstruction is what might happen if Garland doesn't get a fair shake. If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is elected president, they could nominate someone else to the Supreme Court. Who knows? Maybe they might even nominate Barack Obama. We can't help but wonder how Kelly Ayotte would feel about that.”

Valley News: Obstruction of Justice (Editorial). “As time goes on, it gets harder and harder to understand why Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire appears determined to march in lockstep with most of her Republican colleagues over the precipice created by their refusal to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee….. If Ayotte needs a Republican model closer to home in order to assert her independence from GOP group-think, she need look no further than to Sen. Susan Collins of neighboring Maine. Asked in an NPR interview last week whether Garland deserves a hearing and a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Collins replied: ‘He does. I believe that we should follow the regular order in considering this nominee. The Constitution’s very clear that the president has every right to make this nomination, and then the Senate can either consent or withhold its consent. The only way that we can do that is by thoroughly vetting the nominee . . . . ‘  If Ayotte needs still more political cover, she can point to such Republican luminaries as Kenneth Starr, the former special prosecutor in the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals, and Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush. Both have warmly praised Garland in recent days.  Finally, Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking just days before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, expressed concerns about the politicization of the confirmation process, which, he understated, ‘is not functioning very well.’  With the Senate now in recess, Ayotte’s New Hampshire constituents have the opportunity to weigh in with her on Scalia’s successor. We urge them to take it.”

Sentinel Source: Senate Republicans, do your job (Editorial). “If GOP leaders actually cared a whit about the American voter, they’d be paying attention to what those voters are saying during this election cycle. Especially on the GOP side, they are largely ignoring the party’s calls to back establishment candidates in favor of someone who’s only positive message is this: I’ll get things done. Voters know their party leaders are not only failing at every step to accomplish anything, they’re actively trying to stop anything from getting done. It’s one thing to not do your job; it’s another to see your job as keeping everyone else from doing theirs. Ayotte has on occasion broken ranks with her party’s leadership. Not very often, but often enough to be of note, and almost always on issues in which party leaders’ positions ran contrary to those of New Hampshire’s business or environmental interests. This is an instance in which she needs to buck McConnell and call for action on the nomination of Garland. In actively choosing not to do her job, she runs the risk that, come November, voters will mimic Donald Trump, saying ‘You’re fired!’” 

Governor Maggie Hassan: “President Obama is fulfilling his constitutional obligation by announcing a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Unfortunately, long before the President made his nomination, Senator Ayotte sided with her Washington Republican party leaders in vowing to not consider any nomination, instead pledging that she wouldn’t even meet with any nominee. The Senate has a responsibility to provide ‘advice and consent,’ and every Supreme Court nominee should be considered based on his or her specific qualifications. But rather than do her constitutional duty, Senator Ayotte has decided to cater to her party leaders and her special interest backers by playing politics with justice for millions of Americans. Ayotte’s obstruction truly represents Washington dysfunction at its worst, and the people of New Hampshire deserve better.”