Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that even though the GOP appears to have the votes to confirm a new Supreme Court justice, the fight is far from over.
McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke after obtaining the support of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to hold a pre-election vote.
“Two years ago, a radical movement tried to use unproven accusations to ruin a man’s life because they could not win a vote fair and square,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, referring to the contested confirmation process for former Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “Now they appear to be readying an even more appalling sequel. This time, the target will not just be the presumption of innocence for one American, but our very governing institutions themselves.”
Kavanaugh was confronted with allegations during his confirmation proceedings that he sexually harassed women decades ago when he was in high school and college, which he denied. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, said the accusations lacked evidence and were suspiciously timed.
Trump on Monday said he is considering a woman judge to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18 of complications from cancer. The president will announce his choice on Saturday at the White House, he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
After Trump and McConnell signaled their intention to nominate a new justice, some Democratic officials said they would try to increase the number of Supreme Court justices if they reclaim the White House and Senate. Meanwhile, some leftist activists and celebrities suggested there would be violence if there are attempts to nominate a new justice.
“The American people are about to witness an astonishing parade of misrepresentations about the past, misstatements about the present, and more threats against our institutions from the same people, the same people who have already been saying for months—well before this—already been saying for months they want to pack the court,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
McConnell also noted that his Democrat rival in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), made a speech earlier this year on the steps of the Supreme Court and appeared to threaten Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch, another Trump nominee, saying they “will pay the price” and “you won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions” with regard to an abortion rights case.
“There will be time to discuss why senators who appear on the steps of the Supreme Court and personally threaten associate judges if they did not rule a certain way are ill-equipped to give lectures on civics,” McConnell said.
On Monday, Schumer said Republicans have “no right” to name a new justice just weeks ahead of the elections in November.
“By all rights, by every modicum of decency and honor, Leader McConnell and the Republican Senate majority have no right to fill it, no right,” Schumer said, adding that GOP senators should adhere to Ginsburg’s alleged dying wish to her granddaughter that her “most fervent wish” was that she shouldn’t be replaced until “a new president is installed.”
Schumer then warned that Republicans’ move to nominate a judge will push the upper chamber down a “dangerous path.”
“I worry for the future of this chamber if the Republican majority proceeds down this dangerous path. If a Senate majority over the course of six years steals two Supreme Court seats using completely contradictory rationales, how could we expect to trust the other side again?” he asked.
“If, when push comes to shove, when the stakes are the highest, the other side will double-cross their own standards when it’s politically advantageous, tell me how this would not spell the end of this supposedly great deliberative body, because I don’t see how,” Schumer continued.
The Democrats have contended that in 2016, the Republican-held Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died that year.
But on Monday, McConnell repeated his own comments from February 2016: “The Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was a divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago,” meaning a Senate controlled by the party opposite to that of the president has not replaced a Supreme Court seat in a presidential election year for nearly 130 years.