WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham will join the ranks of his GOP colleagues who have agreed to meet with Merrick Garland — even though the South Carolina Republican remains opposed to confirming President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Graham will meet with Garland as a “courtesy,” Graham’s spokesman, Kevin Bishop, confirmed with The Post and Courier.
“He continues to believe the next president should pick the next nominee for the Supreme Court,” said Bishop, adding that the meeting has not yet been scheduled.
It wasn’t long after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February that congressional Republicans drew a line in the sand, saying they would neither hold confirmation hearings nor a vote on any replacement justice put forward by Obama during his final months in office.
Graham, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly joined that chorus, saying there was nothing the White House could do to compel him to confront his party leadership and demand that lawmakers advance Garland’s nomination. Graham also said at the time he would not bother meeting with Garland since there was nothing Garland could say to change his mind.
The fact that Graham will now host Garland in his Capitol Hill office could signal a thawing of the ice, but Bishop was adamant that the public should not read too much into the planned meeting. While some GOP senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois, have met with Garland in sharp defiance of their leadership’s stance, others, such as Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Boozman of Arkansas, have scheduled meetings only to show there are no hard personal feelings, despite their continued opposition.
Graham’s meeting will be of the more polite nature.
“Again, it’s a ‘courtesy’ meeting,” Bishop repeated.
South Carolina’s junior U.S. senator, Republican Tim Scott, still has no plans to meet with Garland, his spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.