By Dave Lemery | The Center Square
In the aftermath of the death Friday of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that they will be moving quickly to fill the vacancy.
McConnell released a statement late Friday saying that he would be prepared to call for a vote in the Senate once the president selects a nominee. To some observers, that stands in contrast to his decision in 2015 not to allow a vote on former President Barack Obama’s nomination of a replacement after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
But in his statement, McConnell insisted that he had always made a distinction between his refusal to consider Judge Merrick Garland as a replacement for Scalia, as opposed to his willingness to move forward now.
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term,” McConnell said in his statement. “We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”
But according to the Kentucky Republican, the fact that he and the majority in the Senate belong to the same party as the president make this time around a different story.
“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Donald Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” he said. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Donald Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
The president, who only learned of Ginsburg’s death when he was informed of it by a reporter following a campaign rally in Minnesota on Friday night, signaled Saturday on Twitter that his pick for the nomination will be forthcoming shortly.
“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” he said. “We have this obligation, without delay!”
Just this month the president released a new list of his potential picks for the Supreme Court, adding to a pair of lists he had previously shared.
Trump is poised to become the first president to make three Supreme Court nominations since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He previously nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were confirmed on narrow votes in the Senate.