Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland will pay his first visit to a Senate Republican’s office next week when he meets Tuesday with Sen. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.
That will be the eighth meeting with senators for Garland, the current chief judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as part of the push to advance his nomination past a Republican blockade. GOP leadership and advocacy groups are making the case that the next president should choose a nominee.
But Kirk, in one of the most precarious electoral positions among GOP senators on the 2016 ballot, has been a significant exception , saying that fellow senators should, “just man up and cast a vote.”
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According to a White House official, Garland is also scheduled to meet with Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland on Monday and both Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Al Franken of Minnesota on Wednesday.
The news of the latest round of meetings between Garland and lawmakers comes as the pressure builds elsewhere.
After Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was quoted Thursday expressing support for at least considering a Supreme Court nomination, conservative groups began pressuring Moran, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman.
Friday afternoon, Moran made clear that despite any disagreements on how to process the Supreme Court nomination, he was against confirmation of Garland.
“I am opposed to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and this administration’s attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court. As I have said since the vacancy was created, I believe I have a duty to ask tough questions and demand answers,” Moran said in a statement. “I am certain a thorough investigation would expose Judge Garland’s record and judicial philosophy, and disqualify him in the eyes of Kansans and Americans.”
“We are in the process of putting the finishing touches on a robust, multi-faceted TV, digital, and grassroots campaign designed to remind Senator Moran that he represents the people of Kansas and neither President Obama nor the Democratic Party,” Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network had said in a statement not long after local newspaper reports from Kansas surfaced highlighting Moran’s support for hearings and votes.
A CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed that 64 percent of those surveyed said there should be hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee. The poll found a much narrower majority, about 52 percent favored confirming Garland to the lifetime appointment.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, launched a new round of web ads as part of its “Party of Trump” messaging operation tying a blockade of Garland to the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump.
Senators remain on recess until April 4, meaning that the pace of meetings with Garland is likely to pick up after more lawmakers return to the Capitol from their home states.