Republicans rush to brand Obama's court pick a 'liberal' as cracks form in their ranks

The Possible Strategy Behind Obama's Supreme Court Pick

The GOP is rushing to label US President Barack Obama's Supreme Court tap as a "liberal" in an attempt to squash a divide among its ranks.

Obama unveiled his pick, Judge Merrick Garland, Wednesday morning.

Almost immediately, GOP-aligned groups sought to brand Garland as a jurist who would be aligned with the left-wing of the court on key issues like gun control.

SEE ALSO: Who is Merrick Garland? Meet President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court

Indeed, the Republican National Committee's "Meet Merrick Garland" research file used the world "liberal" 32 times, as well as in almost every one of the points it stressed.

That came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that his party wouldn't be holding a hearing for Garland because of "principle" and not because of "the person."

See how politicians are reacting to the appointment:

25 PHOTOS
Twitter reaction to Merrick Garland's nomination
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Republicans rush to brand Obama's court pick a 'liberal' as cracks form in their ranks
This has never been about who the nominee is. It is about a basic principle. https://t.co/dGwHUBuLZw https://t.co/Z6nLdcuHWL
I commend @POTUS on his nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland as an associate justice on the Supreme Court. https://t.co/orbFiOZ7oL
Statement on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court: https://t.co/GTcLMLyS6I
Lame duck POTUS is doing us a disservice w/ attempt to tip balance of #SCOTUS in the 11th hr https://t.co/C4BhigPfES https://t.co/QDWz6o1ql4
.@SenateMajLdr McConnell comments on Supreme Court nomination is here: https://t.co/LvNozLmMQf #SCOTUSnominee
The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on the #SCOTUSnominee. So let’s give them a voice. https://t.co/8KyGZTuqoo
Merrick Garland is an outstanding choice for SCOTUS. A protector of civil rights and individual liberties. He MUST get a vote. #Doyourjob!
Judge Garland is fair-minded & independent, a consensus #SCOTUS nom who should be confirmed without controversy https://t.co/NjqMNmtBgk
.@POTUS has fulfilled his constitutional duty–now Senate Republicans must fulfill theirs #DoYourJob https://t.co/YOJIzyl37F
I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court. (3/3)
"Today, I am nominating Chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland to join the Supreme Court." —@POTUS #SCOTUSnominee https://t.co/ak7vqV9sCM
Obama introduces Merrick Garland to Americans: He was born and raised in the Land of Lincoln https://t.co/OdbwLwokxG https://t.co/cpoisYPr2z
"He led the investigation and supervised the prosecution that brought Timothy McVeigh to justice." —@POTUS on Merrick Garland #SCOTUSnominee
"Merrick Garland would take no chances that someone who murdered innocent Americans might go free on a technicality." —@POTUS #SCOTUSnominee
Now, @POTUS has done his job — it's time for Senate GOP to do theirs. We must give Judge Garland the hearings & consideration he deserves.
.@scotusnom Merrick Garland is a thoughtful jurist with impeccable credentials; if he can't get bipartisan support no one can. #DoYourJob
There's never been a #SCOTUSnominee w/ more fed. judicial experience than @SCOTUSnom Judge Garland. #DoYourJob Senate & give him a hearing.
Congratulations to #SCOTUSnominee Merrick Garland, HLS class of 1977 https://t.co/cpm9i82i8Q
Now, all one hundred members of the Senate must do our jobs by providing advice and consent on the President’s #SCOTUSnominee
I will oppose any hearing or votes for President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court.
Leaders must listen to the voices of our people before allowing ambition and partisan politics to consume our democracy. #DoYourJob #SCOTUS
As I have said before, the Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until a new president is elected.
Hatch this morning: "It's not about the individual. It's about protecting the integrity of the Court." #SCOTUS https://t.co/yRcj1Kemd8
Judge Merrick Garland deserves a full and fair hearing and a clear, speedy, public vote from the U.S. Senate.
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"The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration," McConnell said. "The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy."

McConnell said he wouldn't even meet with Garland after hearing of the announcement.

But his Republican colleagues are at least a bit more open to meeting with Garland. The White House reportedly said that Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would meet with Garland following the upcoming Senate recess.

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Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Jeff Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio all said they would also be open to meeting with Garland. However, they didn't necessarily say they'd be open to ultimately holding a confirmation hearing for him.

Kirk, who is facing a tough reelection this year in a Democratic-leaning state, has perhaps gone the furthest of his entire caucus. He previously said he has a "duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition" for whomever Obama nominated.

"The Senate's constitutionally defined role to provide advice and consent is as important as the president's role in proposing a nominee, and I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications," Kirk added Wednesday.

Check out Garland's emotional reaction after being nominated by Obama:

9 PHOTOS
Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
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Republicans rush to brand Obama's court pick a 'liberal' as cracks form in their ranks
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. President Barack Obama annnounces Judge Merrick Garland (R) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (unseen) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Barack Obama and Judge Merrick Garland, the president's nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, walk into the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Merrick currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Judge Merrick Garland speaks after being introduced by U.S. President Barack Obama as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Garland currently serves as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, following the announcement of his nomination for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, announces his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, right, as Vice President Joseph 'Joe' Biden looks on in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama joins his Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland (L), during the nomination announcement the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2016. Garland, 63, is currently Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The nomination sets the stage for an election-year showdown with Republicans who have made it clear they have no intention of holding hearings to vet any Supreme Court nominee put forward by the president. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Others GOP senators, such as Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, signaled that they could be open to the confirmation process for Garland if he were nominated by Obama's successor in 2017. While Flake said he'd consider voting for Garland during the lame-duck session after the November election should Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, be elected.

"For those of us who are concerned about the direction of the court and wanting at least a more centrist figure than between him and somebody that President Clinton might nominate, I think the choice is clear — in a lame duck," Flake told Politico.

Garland, 63, was nominated to the DC circuit court by former President Bill Clinton in 1997. Although he was confirmed by a 76-23 margin, both McConnell and Grassley voted against him at the time, according to Politico.

Seven current Senate Republicans did vote in favor of Garland — Collins, Cochran, Inhofe, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John McCain of Arizona, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Though Garland is seen by court-watchers as a centrist or center-left judge, he has also been known to swing to the right on criminal-law issues.

"To suggest that someone as qualified and respected as Merrick Garland doesn't even deserve a hearing, let alone an up-or-down vote to join an institution as important as our Supreme Court when two-thirds of Americans believe otherwise, that would be unprecedented," Obama said Wednesday in the Rose Garden while announcing his court nomination.

The president added: "It would be a betrayal of our best traditions and a betrayal of the vision of our founding documents."

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See Also:

SEE ALSO: 'I don't hold out great hope': Legal sphere responds to Merrick Garland's US Supreme Court tap


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