Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested Monday if Republicans win back the upper house next year, he’d block President Joe Biden from filling a Supreme Court seat if it became vacant.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said it’d be "highly unlikely" he’d let Biden fill a seat on the high court if one came up in 2024.
"I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled," he said.
"So I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election. What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president."
After the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings for former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee and current Attorney General Merrick Garland. He said he wouldn't fill the seat until after the 2016 election.
McConnell told Hewitt leaving Scalia's seat open until former President Donald Trump took office was "the single most consequential thing I've done in my time as majority leader of the Senate.
"The Brett Kavanaugh appointment was certainly challenging and controversial, and of course, we had very little time left when Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg passed away, and that took a good deal of priority and, I think, skill to get Amy Coney Barrett through," he told Hewitt.
McConnell has argued the Senate is justified in holding open a Supreme Court seat ahead of an election if the Senate and presidency are controlled by different parties. In 2020, when Ginsburg's seat became vacant, Republicans controlled the Senate.
McConnell wouldn’t tell Hewitt what Republicans would do if a justice stepped down in mid-2023 and Republicans controlled the Senate.
"We'll have to wait and see what happens," he said.
McConnell's comments come as Republicans aim to win back control of the current 50-50 Democrat majority chamber in next year’s midterms.
The Hill noted McConnell and Republicans are defending 20 seats, while Democrats are defending 14. Republicans will be defending four seats where GOP senators are retiring and in two states that were carried by Biden in 2020.
Meanwhile, progressives are pressing for Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, to retire so Democrats can fill his seat while they still control the majority.
In an interview Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said of Breyer’s potential retirement: "It’s something that I’d think about but I, I would probably lean towards yes. But yes, you’re asking me this question so I’ve just, I would give more thought to it, but, but I’m inclined to say yes."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.