If the opportunity arises, many in the GOP would have no qualms about President Donald Trump naming a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before November.
Responding to the possibility that the 87-year-old Ginsburg may develop worsening health conditions that force her retirement from the court, South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune said Tuesday on a local radio program that he would support filling a vacant position even though it’s an election year, Dakota News Now reported.
“That would be part of this year,” Thune said of a possible appointment by Trump before Election Day. “We would move on it,” the senator promised, according to Dakota News Now.
A different situation
In 2016, Democrats screamed with outrage when the Republican-controlled Senate blocked lame-duck President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court, refusing to confirm the nomination before the election and then dropping it altogether when Trump won.
But most Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), say the situation now is different from 2016 and that it’s not hypocritical for them to fill a vacancy under the present circumstances.
According to The Washington Post, McConnell argues that in 2016, the president and Senate majority were from different parties, but now, they are both from the same party. Because of this, he and other Republicans say it is acceptable to confirm a Trump nominee before Americans hit the polls.
Additionally, Obama was in the last year of his second term when he nominated Garland in 2016, but Trump is only ending his first term.
So far, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the only Republican senator who has publicly said he wouldn’t vote to confirm a Trump Supreme Court nominee, but the Republican majority in the Senate is a slim 53. It’s easy to see a few more RINOs like Mitt Romney (R-UT) or Susan Collins (R-ME) peeling off and preventing a Trump nominee from being confirmed.
Graham: “We’ll see”
Current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also did not sound definite when asked earlier this week about confirming a Trump nominee, further eroding the chances of a successful election-year nomination.
“I’d like to fill a vacancy. But we’d have to see. I don’t know how practical that would be,” Graham told CNN on Monday, according to The Union Journal. “Let’s see what the market would bear.”
The court was previously thought to have a solid conservative majority after Trump successfully confirmed Justices Neil Gorsuch — who took the spot Obama hoped to give Garland — and Brett Kavanaugh, but Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the four liberal justices on several important cases during the latest court session.
Now, it’s anyone’s guess how the court will rule on any given case, and another Republican nominee would certainly put conservatives’ minds at ease. But the question remains of whether Trump will get the chance to make that happen — and whether Ginsburg will indeed be the next justice to step down from the bench.