WASHINGTON (CN) - Continuing a tour of Capitol Hill since his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Judge Merrick Garland met Tuesday with a top Senate Democrat.
Tapped last week to fill the seat left open by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13, Garland's sit-down today with Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of Democratic leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee, comes on the heels of an earlier meeting with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The D.C. Circuit judge faces a historically difficult path to Supreme Court confirmation, as Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have vowed to lock the doors to their hearing room on any nominee President Barack Obama puts forward.
Though most consider Garland a moderate choice, Republican leadership has held firm on its decision to not hold hearings or a vote, insisting that process of selecting a Supreme Court justice is too delicate in an election year.
Cracks in the Republican blockade haven been forming, however, and Schumer predicted more to come as Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley joined the ranks of a dozen Republicans now saying they will consider meeting with Garland.
"My view, once they meet with Judge Garland - they're decent people - they're going to see he's a straight shooter, he's a brilliant mind and he'd be a great Supreme Court justice," Schumer, a New York Democrat, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Schumer told reporters that he and Garland kept their discussion today broad, touching generally on the judge's "concept of the law" and judicial philosophy, but staying away from Garland's positions on issues like abortion.
In sporadic moments of gushing praise of Obama's pick, the senator specifically touted Garland's experience and personality.
"Once you meet Judge Garland, I think it's hard for any human being, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, to say I'm not going to vote for this person," Schumer said. "Because he's so qualified and so honorable and so decent."
Schumer said he gave simple advice to Garland ahead of his anticipated meetings with Republicans: "Be yourself, you're amazing."
Citing a recent Monmouth poll that found nearly 70 percent of people think the Senate should give Obama's choice a fair shake, Schumer predicted that Garland would get a hearing.
With the Senate having just begun a two-week recess, Schumer said lawmakers will hear their constituents' concerns as they travel their states and drop their opposition.
Though Schumer acknowledged Garland faces a tough path to the bench, he predicted Democrats would eventually prevail in getting Obama's nominee to the court.
"We aren't going to win this confirmation battle tomorrow or the next day, but bit by bit as the American people and Republican senators learn more about this fine man and his sterling credentials, our Republican friends will come around," Schumer said.
Garland is set to meet with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey later this afternoon.
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