McConnell Won’t Commit To Holding SCOTUS Vacancy Open During Election Year

on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would not commit to holding open any Supreme Court vacancy under President Trump created in a presidential election year, the way he blocked President Obama’s nominee Judge Merrick Garland, ostensibly because the seat had opened after the presidential primaries had started.

“Who controls the Senate when you have a vacancy that close to an election makes a big difference,” McConnell said at a press conference Saturday after the Senate narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. “There’s not a doubt in anybody’s mind, I am sure, that if the shoe was on the other foot in 2016, and it had been a Republican president making the nomination to a Democratic Senate, it wouldn’t have been filled.”

Garland, a moderate judge, was nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly in February 2016. The Senate GOP would not even grant him a hearing, arguing that the vacancy should be filled by a judge chosen by the president who won the 2016 election.

“So we’ll see what it looks like in 2020: first, do we have a vacancy; second, who’s in charge of the Senate,” McConnell said Saturday.

McConnell was asked about the hypothetical of another vacancy — particularly if it was to replace the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and whether he would encourage Trump to chose a conservative to take that seat.

“Of course,” McConnell said.

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