McConnell: Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Will Receive a Vote in Senate
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday that any Supreme Court nominee from President Donald Trump would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday at the age of 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer. She served twenty-seven years as an associate justice after being nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1993.
Her death creates a vacancy on the nine-member Supreme Court. President Trump has already nominated two confirmed justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
But with an election for President merely weeks away, questions arose whether McConnell would be consistent with the position he took in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia during the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.
McConnell successfully stalled Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, who never received a hearing in the Senate. McConnell argued that the vacancy occurred too close to that year's presidential election and that the winner of that race should select the justice. Obama nominated Garland in March, eight months before the 2016 general election which was won by Trump and who quickly nominated Gorsuch.
Garland's nomination had expired in January 2017 along with the term of the previous Congress.
Ginsburg's death comes seven and a half weeks before this year's general election in which Trump is up for reelection against Democrat Joe Biden.
On Friday, McConnell stated clearly that Trump's nominee for the new vacancy would receive a hearing in spite of the closeness to the election.
"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 a statement released by his office. "We kept our promise."
McConnell argued that since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed the Supreme Court nominee of an opposing party's president in a presidential election year. That is different now, he said, because in 2016, the Republicans won the Senate and now serve alongside a Republican president.
"President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell said.
McConnell also praised Ginsburg, a celebrated liberal member of the court, in his statement which was released shortly after the justice's death was confirmed.
"Justice Ginsburg overcame one personal challenge and professional barrier after another," McConnell said. "She climbed from a modest Brooklyn upbringing to a seat on our nation’s highest court and into the pages of American history. Justice Ginsburg was thoroughly dedicated to the legal profession and to her 27 years of service on the Supreme Court.
"Her intelligence and determination earned her respect and admiration throughout the legal world, and indeed throughout the entire nation, which now grieves alongside her family, friends, and colleagues."
McConnell is also up for election this year for what would be his seventh six-year term in the Senate. He faces Democratic nominee Amy McGrath in November.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (official portrait)