Klobuchar warns of consequences for GOP blocking Garland

Story highlights

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • She warned of consequences for delaying hearing for Obama's pick to replace Antonin Scalia

"The Axe Files," featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

(CNN)Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warns that Republican senators running in swing states may suffer in the general election if their party continues to deny a hearing or vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland, the President's choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

"The Republican party and the forces that support it are calculating that people don't vote based on the Supreme Court. ... They're calculating that (people) are not going to notice, they're not going to care," the Minnesota senator told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. "Well, they do care about democracy and they do care about America."
    Recalling interactions with voters in Minnesota, Klobuchar said, "People at the grocery store, they'll say, 'Did you see that? It's a 4-4 decision. It's because we don't have a judge.' ... This just strikes at the core for anyone who thinks ... this isn't how politics is supposed to work. ... So I do think it's going to be an issue."
    Klobuchar noted that Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Appeals and a former federal prosecutor, has won lavish praise in the past from leading Senate Republicans. But, she said, they are afraid to move forward on a nomination that would tip the balance on a court currently split evenly ideologically.
    "You had two (Republican) senators this week say they want hearings and then changed their minds. They are getting so much pressure from the right," Klobuchar said.
    Public polls show a majority of Americans support hearings and a vote for Garland. Yet despite the fear of a backlash from their base, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's declaration that he will not move on a Supreme Court nomination until the next president takes office, Klobuchar said that public opinion may yet force the Republicans to relent.
    "That hope comes from where the people are," she said. "The public overwhelmingly wants us to move forward with hearings."
    "While it's been an ugly political season, to me the American people see through this, and they don't want a court that can't make a decision for two years," she said, adding that even with "all of the finger pointing and all of the hate words, no one thinks that should spill over into the court."
    To hear the full interview with Klobuchar, who also touched on her unconventional path to public service, her views on the 2016 presidential candidates, and her work in the Senate to end the trade embargo on Cuba, click on http://podcast.cnn.com.
    To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.