By Ruthy Munoz and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said on Thursday he believed Hillary Clinton would stick with President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee if she won the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Some Republican conservatives were concerned that if Democratic presidential candidate Clinton won the White House, she would pick a more liberal judge than Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for a lifetime appointment to the high court. Garland is a centrist federal appeals court judge whom a number of Republicans have praised.
“I would think that she and all the people around her would say, ‘Why do we need to rock the boat here? Let’s get him confirmed quickly and move on to the next one, whenever that comes,'” Reid said on a conference call with reporters.
Clinton has urged the Senate to confirm Garland. Her campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on Reid’s remarks.
Senate Democrats may try to force a vote on procedural motions that, if successful, would lead to a vote on Garland before the new president takes office in January, Reid said. He invited along Republicans who want to distance themselves from their party’s controversial presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
“We have a couple of options and we are deciding when to do that. And if we should do that. When and if,” Reid said.
The leader of the Republican-controlled Senate, Mitch McConnell, has refused to schedule hearings on the nomination of Garland, saying the winner of the Nov. 8 presidential election should choose the Supreme Court justice. Obama nominated Garland on March 16 to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.
“The majority leader has been clear: the next president will make the nomination for this vacancy,” Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff for McConnell, said in an email.
A number of Republican senators in tough re-election fights are trying to distance themselves from their party’s controversial nominee, yet they refuse to hold a vote on Garland, Reid said.
He said those Republicans should call on McConnell to confirm Garland, not hold the Supreme Court seat for someone as “radical and unfit” as Trump, a New York businessman who has never held public office.
“They spend a lot of time these Republicans, spending a lot of energy trying to separate themselves from Donald Trump. But as long as they’re holding a Supreme Court seat open for him, they’re his minions. They’re his enablers,” Reid said.
(Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Grant McCool)