A new poll by Rasmussen shows that voters are divided — largely along party lines — over whether President Donald Trump and Republicans should fill a Supreme Court vacancy if one presents itself before the 2020 election.
A plurality of likely voters surveyed, 49%, said that Trump should wait until after the 2020 election to fill a vacancy, according to Rasmussen. Another 45% said he should not wait.
Is filling a vacancy fair?
There is no vacancy right now on the nation’s highest court, but questions remain over whether one could open up in the coming months. The court’s eldest justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recently announced that she is cancer-free, according to ABC News, although she has lost time on the bench several times in recent months due to illnesses and bouts with cancer in her lungs and pancreas.
No left-leaning justices will retire willingly while Trump is in office, but there’s no telling how long Ginsburg, who will turn 87 in March, will be healthy enough to serve.
If an opening does open up, it seems the nation is divided on what Washington’s next move should be. While Rasmussen didn’t give a breakdown of how many Democrats and Republicans were surveyed, their internals appeared to show that the poll broke down on party lines.
Democrats, for their part, are still bitter about the Republican Senate’s refusal to vote on confirming Merrick Garland, an Obama SCOTUS appointee, in 2016. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the vote — and to Dems, it’s only fair that the GOP treat 2020 as they did the last presidential election year.
But McConnell has said he would immediately fill a vacancy because the situation isn’t the same. In McConnell’s mind, Washington was split in 2016, with Republicans holding the Senate while a Democrat held the White House. Since the Senate and the Oval Office are now both held by the GOP — at least until November — McConnell feels justified in moving forward, should the opportunity present itself.
Playing by the rules
Trump has already appointed two justices to the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, who joined the bench just after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and Brett Kavanaugh, whose contentious confirmation hearings captivated the nation in late 2018.
Whether Trump will get the chance to appoint another justice remains to be seen.
Since Republicans ditched the filibuster rule, a simple majority is all that’s needed to confirm a judge to any court, including the Supreme Court. In fact, only 50 votes are needed right now, because Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie and cast the deciding vote.
As much as Dems may complain about these procedures, it’s hard to sympathize with the people who made up biased rules to govern the recent impeachment inquiry in the House, including preventing Republicans from calling witnesses and asking questions if the Dems felt it would hurt their case against the president.
It’s clear that Democrats only care about rules and fairness when it benefits them. Why should Republicans lose the game because Democrats are playing dirty?