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Politics & Government

Susan Collins Urges Senate To 'Follow Regular Order' On Supreme Court Nominee


A handful of Republican senators have said they'll meet with Judge Garland. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has gone further than that, calling last month for a hearing on President Obama's nominee. And Senator Collins joins us now. Welcome to the program once again.

SUSAN COLLINS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: Does Judge Merrick Garland deserve a hearing and a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee?

COLLINS: 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, and that means having personal meetings, which I have scheduled to come up in about three weeks, or - and to hold a public hearing.

SIEGEL: Well, I don't have to tell you that's not the strategy that the Republican leadership in the Senate is following. They're determined to simply ignore the nomination - unconstitutional.

COLLINS: I recognize and I respect the alternative view that is held by the majority leader and by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I just simply disagree with that. I believe that the best outcome from the Senate, whether we're dealing with nominees or treaties or legislation, come about when we follow the regular order.

SIEGEL: Now, a few of your colleagues have said that they will meet with the nominee. But only one of them - Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona - sits on Judiciary. It sounds like the numbers mean there are going to be some individual meetings, but it sounds like no hearing. Is this the most likely outcome right now given the numbers?

COLLINS: It's hard to tell, but that probably is the most likely outcome. I suspect that there will be more senators who are willing to sit down with the nominee. That is, after all, those one-on-one conversations I have found to be the best way to evaluate the nominee's intellect, temperament, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the Constitution, qualifications and experience.

SIEGEL: You're not saying that you would definitely support Judge Garland, but you've voted for him in the past for confirmation to the D.C. Court of Appeals. I mean, is he - I'm not asking, is it a yes vote, but you regard him as a reasonable nominee to the Supreme Court by the president.

COLLINS: He certainly is a solid nominee, and he appears to have been an accomplished jurist. He is the chief judge of the DC circuit, and that is impressive. But he's been on the court for 19 years. That's a long time since I first voted for him. In fact, he was the first federal judge for whom I voted as a new senator in 1997.

I have not followed his judicial rulings since that time. So it's incumbent upon me to review those rulings to get a sense of whether he's lived up to the promise that I saw in him back in 1997. And it would be premature for me to make a final decision prior to doing a great deal more work.

SIEGEL: Senator Collins, thanks a lot for talking with us once again.

COLLINS: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.