Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he backs voting for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.
He claimed Democrats “would do” the same thing “if the shoe were on the other foot.”
“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,” he told The Hill. “The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.”
Top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said that Trump should not confirm a Supreme Court justice before the election. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), both said over the weekend that the nomination should be held until after the November election.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election—less than two months out—and I believe the same standard must apply,” Murkowski said on Sunday. “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Media.
Democrats will have to find two GOP senators who will not vote in favor of a new Supreme Court justice. If the vote is 50 in favor and 50 against, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tying vote.
“I have voted to confirm Justices [John] Roberts, [Samuel] Alito, [Sonia] Sotomayor, [Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character, and temperament,” Alexander added. “I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he plans on holding a vote on a Trump nominee for the Supreme Court before the election. And Trump said he is planning to pick a woman for Ginsburg’s spot.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden called on Republican senators to “please follow your conscience” and not push through a Supreme Court justice.
But at the same time, some more left-wing Democrats have said they would “pack the courts” by voting to add more Supreme Court justices in 2020.
On Friday, the Supreme Court said Ginsburg died at age 87 due to complications from cancer. Ginsburg, considered the face of the liberal wing of the court, dictated a statement to her granddaughter saying that a new justice should not be named “until a new president is installed,” reported NPR.
Republicans face the decision to try and nominate the Supreme Court justice before Election Day or during the lame-duck congressional session following Election Day and January.
“I’m for whatever gives us the best opportunity to confirm a conservative to the court while giving us the best chance of keeping the Senate and White House,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told The Hill. “[But] I suspect we will have a long discussion about it Tuesday.”