Top GOP senators on Monday reiterated their support for moving to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Clinton nominee who died on Friday.
“President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the senate,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed on the Senate floor in Washington.
Supreme Court nominees are initially vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Like all Senate committees, it is controlled by Republicans because they hold a majority in the upper congressional chamber.
In a Sept. 21 letter to Democrat members of the committee, Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said voters elected to extend that majority in the 2018 midterms because Republicans “committed to confirming President Trump’s excellent judicial nominees—and particularly because we committed to supporting his Supreme Court nominees.”
“I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same,” he added later.
Opposition to Trump’s intention to quickly nominate a replacement for Ginsburg—the president said earlier Monday he’s targeting Friday or Saturday to announce his nominee—by either Graham or McConnell would imperil the process.
They and most Republican senators, though, have announced their support for the move.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, giving more wiggle room than they had during the bruising confirmation battle for Justice Brett Kavanaugh two years ago. But two Republican senators are already on the record speaking out against considering a nominee prior to the Nov. 3 election, and some haven’t stated their position.
Three potential swing votes who haven’t committed to supporting Trump are Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
A 50-50 tie could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence, but opposition from four or more Republicans would likely spell disaster.
Most Democrats have said the Senate shouldn’t consider a nominee until after voters decide to re-elect Trump or choose Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Several moderate Democrats could side with the GOP, but none have said yet they plan on doing so.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh, said Monday he opposes voting on Ginsburg’s replacement before Nov. 3.
McConnell appealed to colleagues on the floor Monday, pointing to threats Democrat lawmakers and activists have issued, from packing the court if Biden gets elected to burning down government buildings, and calling into question claims there isn’t enough time to undertake the confirmation process before the election.
Ginsburg and other justices have been confirmed in much less time than the 43 days remaining, the lawmaker said.
He also spurned those who try comparing what unfolded in 2016, when Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, noting that the divided government existing then doesn’t exist now with the GOP holding both the Senate and the presidency.
“Eight times in our nation’s history new vacancies have arisen and presidents have made nominations all during the election year. Seven of the eight were confirmed, and the sole exception, Justice Abe Fortas, was a situation including personal corruption that extended into financial dealings,” he said.
“Apart from that one strange exception, no senate has failed to confirm a nominee in the circumstances that face us right now.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood next, telling senators that McConnell on March 1, 2016, said blocking Obama’s nominee would give the voters a voice in filling the vacancy.
“If that was how Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans justify their mindless obstruction of President Obama’s nominee, surely they must abide by their own standard. What’s fair is fair. What’s fair is fair. A senator’s word must count for something,” he said.
“There is only one way for us to have some hope of coming together again, trusting each other again, lowering the temperature, moving forward, and that is for four brave Senate Republicans to commit to rejecting any nominee until the next president is installed,” he added. “That was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish, and it may be the Senate’s only last hope.”