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Sen. Sherrod Brown On Obama Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland
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Sen. Sherrod Brown On Obama Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland

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Sen. Sherrod Brown On Obama Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland

Sen. Sherrod Brown On Obama Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland
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NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown about his reaction to President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now for a Democrat's take on the day's big political stories - the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland and last night's primary results. Joining us from Capitol Hill is Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Welcome to the program once again.

SHERROD BROWN: Honored to be on. Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: Are you hearing any give on the part of Senate Republicans about taking up the Garland nomination?

BROWN: No give yet, but I think that this one's a hard one to oppose when he was confirmed overwhelmingly some years ago. Orrin Hatch and others have made very favorable comments. Even Chief Justice Roberts has said very positive things about him. So I think the pressure builds.

SIEGEL: But Sen. Hatch and Sen. McConnell have shown no difficulty at all in saying this time, no, no hearing.

BROWN: They're saying it now. They said it when there was no candidate. I think when the public hears things like - the last time there was a full-year vacancy on the Supreme Court was 150 years ago when we were in the midst, literally fighting a civil war - that there is no precedent for basically saying the president has a three-year rather than four-year term and we have to shut down everything on the last year of his term. I think when the pressure will build on - the pressure builds to tell this crowd in Washington to do your jobs, and senators - we run for these offices. We take an oath of office. We get paid to do this work, and fellow senators need to do their jobs. And I think that mantra is going to be heard over and over.

SIEGEL: Sen. Brown, Judge Garland was not seen as the most liberal of the potential nominees. He's described as a centrist. A group run by former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean expressed disappointment with the nomination. He said Garland seems designed - these were their words - to appease intransigent Republicans. Are you, as a progressive Democrat, satisfied with the Garland nomination?

BROWN: Yeah, I'm satisfied with him. I think there are a lot of reasons that he has been - I mean, in the D.C. circuit, he's been solid. He's been progressive. He's a judge that is very careful with his decisions, and I think that he will add a lot to this court. I didn't really have - and I'm not a lawyer. I've never really had strong opinions on who the president should pick. He's the one that's elected. He has that right to do that, and I think that he will be a good judge.

SIEGEL: What do you make of the notion that if Hillary Clinton wins in November and if Democrats win the Senate that there could be another nominee - younger more liberal or both? Or should the next Democratic president, if it comes to pass, stand by this nomination as a point of principle?

BROWN: Oh, I think the new president should nominate who she wants, and I assume that Hillary Clinton will be the new president. Obviously that's very much an assumption. I think the chances are good that she is, and I think Republicans who have - who are saying they're going to block an Obama nominee are going to have to face a new president beginning her term with a Democratic Senate. And they may be sorry that they did that, but that's a decision they're making.

SIEGEL: There are a couple of big ifs there in...

BROWN: Of course there are big ifs, but I think that when Republicans - I just think the way this year is shaping up - and Donald Trump - they don't really trust Donald Trump to appoint a nominee that would fit in the Ted Cruz mold on their side.

SIEGEL: Sen. Brown, I've heard you dismiss the idea of your being a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton. But if it is going to be Clinton versus Trump, does the strategy of looking left for the ticket and finding a progressive Democrat to be a running mate - does that make more sense than, say, looking to perhaps a Republican to make a take-the-high-road fusion ticket of some kind?

BROWN: I can't imagine that Hillary Clinton will choose a Republican. I've heard that idea. I can't imagine. There are a number of good, strong Democratic candidates - or good, strong Democrats. There's people like Tim Kaine and Secretary Castro and Cabinet member Tom Perez. I mean, there's a - there are a number of Democrats that would be strong and help Hillary Clinton win this election. But I think when voters look at Hillary Clinton or, in contrast, Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump, the decision is going to be very easy for the - a strong majority of Americans.

And if the Republicans take it away from Trump in my hometown of Cleveland, they've got a whole host of other problems that will cause the Republican Party great heartache not just for calendar year 2016 but way beyond.

SIEGEL: Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thanks for talking with us once again.

BROWN: My pleasure. Thank you.

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