Portman’s New Problem: Republican Leaders Refusing to Uphold Constitutional Duty on New Supreme Court Justice

COLUMBUS — Sen. Rob Portman is facing heat from the declaration by Senate Republican leaders that they will defy their constitutional duty to vote on the confirmation of a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Various media outlets have already highlighted the problem faced by Portman, who has so far refused to comment on whether he will join the defiant, unconstitutional calls of his Republican colleagues:

  • Washington Post: “This quandary is particularly acute for senators running in states that voted for Obama in 2012, such as… Rob Portman (R-Ohio).”

  • Washington Post: “Pay particularly close attention to Portman, who is already vulnerable and could be wiped out if African Americans make up the same percentage of the electorate in 2016 as they did in 2012. They are likelier to vote if they believe he is disrespecting the first black president.”

  • Washington Post: “His line of attack against Portman is going to be over whether the incumbent will abdicate any consideration of the selection to replace Scalia: ‘Senator Portman, who has your allegiance, your country or your party leaders?’… Portman has so far declined to comment on the process or politics of the succession.”

  • Boston Globe: “By waiting until next year to proceed, Senate Republicans will be cast as obstructionist, holding up the business of the judicial system for partisan gain. It could put candidates in tight races — such as… Senator Rob Portman in Ohio — in a difficult spot.”

  • New York Times: “Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, who is also up for re-election, issued a statement of condolence to Justice Scalia’s family without mentioning the ensuing confirmation fight already engulfing Washington.”

  • Columbus Dispatch: “Strickland has an event in Cincinnati this morning, where he is expected to call on Portman, a Republican, to vote on a replacement for Scalia. Portman has not said if he believes the pick should wait until the next president is elected.”

  • The Daily Beast: “There are some Republican senators from purple or blue states who might be hurt in their re-election bids by balls-to-the-wall obstruction. But there aren’t 14. There are four. Rob Portman of Ohio…”

  • CNN: “…the handful of endangered Senate Republicans in swing states will become the target of intense pressure to buck their party’s leadership and call for a confirmation vote… Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who is in a tough Senate race, issued a statement Saturday praising Scalia’s tenure on the court, but didn’t address whether he opposes any nominee coming for a vote.”

  • CNBC: “The more credibility a nominee has shown in the past among Republicans, the easier it will be for Democrats to make Republicans appear unreasonably partisan by blocking him or her. That would represent an unwelcome burden for incumbent Republican Senators trying to hang on to their seats in November, such as Rob Portman of Ohio.”

  • Roll Call: “Democrats have put a special emphasis on defeating five Republican incumbents who represent states that Obama won in both of his presidential campaigns: Rob Portman of Ohio… In each of their states, winning over middle-of-the-road voters who prefer temperamentally and ideologically moderate candidates is essential to victory — and those are exactly the type of voters Democrats hope a contentious fight over the Supreme Court vacancy will alienate most.”

  • Roll Call: “The pressure is especially intense for a quintet of swing-state Republican incumbents who have a direct say on if and how the Senate considers President Barack Obama’s appointee:… Rob Portman of Ohio.”

  • American Prospect: “McConnell’s comment put in bold relief the huge stakes, not just of the presidential election, but of who controls the Senate… Ohio: Republican incumbent Rob Portman is running for re-election. His likely Democratic opponent, former Governor Ted Strickland, is currently leading Portman in the polls. Strickland won a landslide victory for governor in 2006 but lost a close race to John Kasich four years later. This will be an intense battleground state in both the presidential and Senate races. Tossup.”

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