With the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy cropping up this year, Senate Republicans are divided on whether they should take up a new nomination and hold an approval vote before Election Day or, if President Donald Trump loses, before the new president takes office.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already said that they would move forward with a nominee if a vacancy occurs. But with 87-year-old Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dealing with another bout of cancer, Republicans in the Senate chamber can't agree on what to do if she departs the bench this year.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told The Hill: "When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don't believe we should do it. So I would not support it."
Former President Barack Obama nominated Garland to replace Associate Justice Antonin Scalia after his death in February 2016. That was Obama's last year in office, and the GOP-controlled Senate refused to take up the nomination. Democrats are still sour at what took place.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham told The Hill that if a vacancy does come up this year, he would confer with his colleagues before making a decision on what to do.
"We've got to see where the market is, what other senators think," he said.
"I'd like to get input from my colleagues. … I hope everybody stays healthy on the Supreme Court and we don't have to worry about it."
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