During the last election cycle, McConnell earned the ire of the left by refusing to hold hearings for former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
Obama nominated Garland after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in Feb. 2016. Hours later, McConnell put out a statement saying that Scalia’s spot should not be filled until after the election took place.
The majority leader’s stance has brought charges of hypocrisy, but he has defended it on the grounds that the Senate and the White House are controlled by the same party in 2020, unlike 2016.
McConnell repeated that defense in his Friday statement.
“Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” he said.
“Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell wrote. “Once again, we will keep our promise,” he added.
The nomination will not be solely up to McConnell. The Republicans hold a 53-seat majority in the Senate, meaning the party can only tolerate three defections from its ranks, assuming every Democrat votes against a potential new nominee.
While Trump’s first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, easily gained enough GOP support, Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced a tougher time, following sexual misconduct allegations which he denied.
One GOP senator who voted against Kavanaugh’s nomination, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has previously said that she opposed filling a hypothetical Ginsburg vacancy. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who voted for both of Trump’s nominees, has also in the past expressed opposition to filling a 2020 vacancy.
Grassley did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Friday evening, while Collins and Murkowski put out statements praising Ginsburg’s life but not indicating whether they would support a vote on a nominee ahead of November. Another moderate, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who was not in office when Kavanaugh was confirmed, did the same.
Collins voted to confirm Kavanaugh, but has said that she would not vote to confirm a justice in October, because of its proximity to the election.
One element that could shape the debate is Ginsburg’s own reported dying wish that she not be replaced before Inauguration Day. According to NPR, in the days before she died, Ginsburg uttered a statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.
Read McConnell’s full statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
The Senate and the nation mourn the sudden passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
Justice Ginsburg overcame one personal challenge and professional barrier after another. She climbed from a modest Brooklyn upbringing to a seat on our nation’s highest court and into the pages of American history. Justice Ginsburg was thoroughly dedicated to the legal profession and to her 27 years of service on the Supreme Court. Her intelligence and determination earned her respect and admiration throughout the legal world, and indeed throughout the entire nation, which now grieves alongside her family, friends, and colleagues.
In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise.
President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.
Article source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/18/trump-nominee-to-replace-ruth-bader-ginsburg-on-supreme-court-will-get-senate-vote-mcconnell-says.html