Merrick Garland

In interviews with nearly a dozen Republicans senators, a consistent theme emerged around the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court: Republican lawmakers won’t even examine his nearly two-decade history on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on environmental (or any other) issues.

They say opening that track record to scrutiny would make the nomination process about the individual. Republicans want the focus to remain on their refusal to consider Garland based on their broader point that no president should pick a Supreme Court justice during a presidential election year.

Here’s what some said:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.): “The president could nominate George W. Bush and I'd still say the same thing: We're not going to confirm him. It has nothing to do with the individual. I'm very careful not to even consider [Garland's background], because that isn't the issue. All that does is let you guys think that this has to do with the person, and it doesn't.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.): “I'm not sure anything about his record gives me any pause, because we're not going to consider him. We're not going to hold hearings, we're not going to vote on him, so all that stuff—which I know everyone is going to want to bat around—is really irrelevant.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): “It's not about the person, it's about the principle.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.): “I haven’t looked at his record. If he’s re-nominated next year, I will consider that.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.): “I will meet with him, I don’t have a problem with that. But I don’t have any intention of moving on any candidate regardless of who it is, so the issue isn’t really who he is or what he believes and the background. It’s that this is not the right time.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “It doesn’t matter who the nominee is.”

Democrats will continue to hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire over what they describe as unprecedented obstruction.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “Their message is preposterous. They’re saying we don’t want to get the merits of him because we’re afraid we might like him. What they are really deathly afraid of is that Judge Garland will get a hearing and perform well…So we can’t get to the substance right now because they are refusing to act like senators.”

Bloomberg BNA reporters Dean Scott and Anthony Adragna reported the story for subscribers.

Earlier, Bloomberg BNA reporter Rebecca Wilhelm looked into Garland’s record as a circuit court judge and found that he has typically been deferential to EPA regulations.