Republican lawmakers are fighting back against claims that confirming a Supreme Court nominee ahead of the upcoming election would be hypocritical, The Hill reports.
Upon the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement vowing to hold a vote to confirm a new justice. President Donald Trump said Monday he would put forward his pick on Friday or Saturday.
According to The Hill, Democrats have called the GOP’s push to confirm a new justice ahead of the election hypocritical because Republicans refused to hold a hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016.
But McConnell argues the two scenarios can’t be compared because this time around the GOP holds both the Senate and the White House. In 2016, it was a Democrat in the White House, so he said it was appropriate for the Republican-controlled Senate to block Garland.
“Leader McConnell consistently explained that a Senate controlled by the party opposite that of the president hasn’t filled a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year for over a century,” McConnell’s office stated.
McConnell has support from Republican lawmakers, but some are pushing back. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the vote shouldn’t take place because of the precedent set with Garland.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be reelecting the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins said in a statement released Saturday.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina previously said he would oppose putting a justice on the court ahead of an election. But over the weekend, he indicated he would support Trump’s nominee.
“Being lectured by Democrats about how to handle judicial nominations is like an arsonist advising the Fire Department,” Graham tweeted Sunday.
He called out the Democrats for their actions over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
“Democrats chose to set in motion rules changes to stack the court at the Circuit level and they chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life to keep the Supreme Court seat open. You reap what you sow,” he wrote in a second tweet.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander issued a statement Sunday noting the Senate’s position on the appointment shouldn’t be surprising.
“No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,” the Tennessee lawmaker wrote. “The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.”
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that the Senate would be performing its “constitutional duty” by filling the position.
Wallace asked the Arkansas lawmaker if his position was hypocritical in any way because he argued to block Garland’s nomination in 2016.
“Why would we squelch the voice of the people? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the makeup of the Supreme Court?” Cotton said on the Senate floor in 2016 of selecting Scalia’s successor ahead of the election.
“You don’t see any hypocrisy between that position then and this position now?” Wallace asked.
“Chris, the Senate majority is performing our constitutional duty and fulfilling the mandate that the voters gave us,” Cotton said.
Former President Bill Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the Senate’s argument is “superficially hypocritical.”
“Mitch McConnell wouldn't give president Obama's nominee Merrick Garland a hearing 10 months before the presidential election, and that meant that we went a long time with eight judges on the court,” he said.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that he has an “obligation” to voters to select the next nominee. Republicans can confirm a Supreme Court nominee with 50 votes and a tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence.
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