One Republican senator quickly ended speculation about whether she will support the GOP effort to confirm a Trump Supreme Court nominee before the election.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) indicated she would not support a rapid effort to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before November, based on remarks she made Friday to a local reporter.
On Friday, Alaska Public Radio’s D.C. correspondent Liz Ruskin tweeted, “Alaska’s @lisamurkowski said today she won’t confirm a new SCOTUS justice until after the inauguration day. Fair is fair, she says.”
In a handful of follow-up tweets, Ruskin clarified that Murkowski’s remarks were earlier in the day in response to a hypothetical question, prior to the news of Ginsburg’s death.
Additionally, Ruskin clarified that Murkowski had not specifically mentioned “inauguration day” in her comments, either — though it perhaps had been implied. “Let me amend that. She said she wouldn’t confirm until after Americans decide who their president will be,” Ruskin tweeted.
McConnell needs GOP support
Considering that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell only has a majority of 53 seats and needs the votes of at least 51 members to confirm a nominee from President Donald Trump, he can only afford to lose a couple of Republican votes before the whole issue becomes a lost cause.
If a confirmation vote on a nominee is delayed until after the election, and if Democrats manage to win back the Senate and/or White House, the ideological makeup and judicial outlook of a nominee picked by Democrats after the election will be vastly different from one picked by Trump and Republicans.
2016 vs. 2020
TheBlaze noted that Murkowski’s “fair is fair” comment was most likely in reference to how Senate Republicans under McConnell in 2016 had declined to hold hearings or a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
What Murkowski and other critics of McConnell fail to recall — or refuse to acknowledge — is that there was a pretty substantial caveat to the decision to not consider Garland’s nomination — the fact that opposing parties controlled the two branches that are part of the process of seating a replacement jurist on the high court.
Indeed, McConnell made it clear in 2016, and has reiterated on many occasions since then, that it was because the Senate and White House were controlled by opposing parties that the nomination to fill Scalia’s vacancy would be delayed until after the people had weighed in during the election.
That obviously isn’t the case this year, as both the Senate and White House are controlled by Republicans, and the Senate Leader has let everyone know that there’ll be no delays this time around.
In fact, in a statement issued Friday night, McConnell stated bluntly, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” Whether he will have enough Republican support to confirm that eventual nominee is another story altogether.