Progressive groups are targeting Senate Republicans, hoping to exert enough pressure on them to force hearings for President Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee.
Liberal activists on Thursday rallied outside the home district offices of Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — all up for reelection in November — holding picket signs saying #DoYourJob and delivering petitions urging the lawmakers to reconsider their refusal to consider a nominee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Grassley, vowed last month to block confirmation hearings until the next president is elected. The pronouncement set off an immediate, aggressive effort by liberal interest groups to attack the tactics as unconstitutional.
Thursday’s rallies are being led by Organizing for Action, the nonprofit that grew out of Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign to further Obama’s policies through grassroots organizing and fundraising. The group is overseeing about 30 such events in 20 states this week.
Meanwhile, a coalition of labor unions and civil rights groups released new polling data Thursday that indicates incumbent GOP senators in battleground states — including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina — risk voter backlash if they continue to refuse to consider the president’s nominee.
Sixty percent of voters surveyed in those states said they are less likely to support a senator who says the Senate should not consider or vote on the nominee, according to the poll. The poll surveyed 800 likely 2016 voters, Democrats and Republicans, in 12 battleground states between Feb. 19 and 22. It was conducted by Hart Research, a Washington consulting firm that does public opinion polling for Democratic candidates and campaigns.
Once informed the president intends to submit a nominee to the Senate, 69 percent said Republicans should consider or take a vote on the nominee, compared to 28 percent who said senators should not consider or vote on the nominee and wait for a new president to do so.
The poll was sponsored by 11 Democratic-affiliated groups including the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In Washington, efforts from progressive advocates have tended toward the whimsical. A group of about three dozen young activists organized by Generation Progress visited the Senate offices of the 11 Republican Judiciary Committee members Thursday, handing out VHS cassettes of the “Schoolhouse Rock” — the 1970s-vintage series famous for its animated civics lessons.
Obama met this week with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley and the committee’s ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). But the meeting was described by Reid and Leahy as
as “very short” and without resolution. Obama is expected to make a selection in the next few weeks.
The White House is said to be vetting Jane Kelly, a federal appellate judge in Iowa, as a potential replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The selection of Kelly could prove problematic for Grassley, who praised Kelly in 2013 before the Senate unanimously confirmed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.