CNN’s Banfield Grills Sen. King: What About the 40 Years of Not Nominating SCOTUS Pick?

‘What about four decades of that tradition?’

BANFIELD: “Senator Angus King is an independent from Maine and he’s kind enough to join me live now from Capitol Hill. Senator, thank you so much for taking the time. I’m sure you’re digesting his particular pick, his background, his merits, his qualifications, and then, of course, the politics in the place where you’re standing. Where do you see this going? “
KING: “Well, I’m starting just where you said, which is to try to digest the background, the temperament, the qualities of intellect and judicial knowledge of Judge Garland, who I don’t really know much about. Frankly, I think that’s the job of all of us around here for the next few weeks. I agree with Mitch McConnell, it’s the president’s constitution — he said right, I believe obligation to nominate a justice as the — of the Supreme Court and I think it’s our obligation to give it due consideration. Nobody has to tell anybody how they should vote, but I believe we should have a hearing, we should have discussion, we should have debate. Let the American people see what Justice Garland is like. Have him — put him through hearings, ask him tough questions, and then we should make a decision. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.” 
BANFIELD: “So — so, Senator — so then what you’re saying to me, and I want to hear it in your words, that that Mitch McConnell is wrong and his colleges on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are Republican and are refusing even so much as an office meeting in your building with this candidate, they are wrong not to give him a hearing, is that what you’re saying?” 
KING: “Yes, of course they’re wrong. I mean the Constitution says the president nominates by the — with the advice and consent of the Senate. To just say, we’re not even going to talk to this person, we’re not going to meet with him, I just think is — just doesn’t make any sense and I think it’s a violation of our obligation.” 
BANFIELD: “What about — what about the four decades of tradition? And — and I understand that argument wholeheartedly, but I also understand there have been four decades of tradition where there hasn’t been a Supreme Court nominee both nominated and approved in the same year during an election year where politics are hot and frustrating and voters may be — you know, they may have their attention elsewhere?” 
KING: “Well — well, here’s the problem with that argument. The president of the United States is elected for four yours. The Constitution says four years. It doesn’t say three years and one month or three years and two months. The president is the president. And Mitch McConnell says the people should speak. They spoke. They elected this president twice. He was elected for a four-year term and he’s supposed to nominate. He has an obligation to nominate a member of the Supreme Court when there is an opening. I think something like six out of —“
BANFIELD: “Sir, with all due respect, I have a copy of the Constitution on my desk, and I — and I checked it again right before my interview with you. There’s nothing in there about the tradition. Constitution, yes. Advise and consent, that’s your job. But the tradition has been that politics are ugly and that that final year should be sacrosanct. And you disagree?”
KING: “Well, I believe — as I recall, over the last 100 years, six out of eight nominees that have been put forward for the Supreme Court during a presidential election year have been confirmed. So, you know, you can define tradition as 10 years, 20 years , 30 years. I — you know, I wasn’t here then. I just go by what the Constitution says. I think our job is to consider the nominee. Nobody says that Mitch McConnell or Orrin Hatch or anybody else has to vote for this nominee. But to simply say, I’m not even going to meet with him, we’re not going to have hearings, we’re not going to get — let the American people become acquainted with this nominee, I just — I just — I don’t get that, frankly. I don’t understand that impulse to just slam the door. I think that’s just not consist with what our — our job here is.”
BANFIELD: “Senator Angus King, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for taking the time.” 
KING: “Thank you.”

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