While some GOP leaders are adamant that the party would push forward with a U.S. Supreme Court confirmation if a vacancy should open before Election Day, there is growing dissension within the party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asserted in two separate statements that the GOP-controlled senate would “fill it” if a seat on the nation’s highest court were to open prior to the election.
That reaction sparked widespread backlash, however, based on his refusal to consider a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia following his death in 2016. At that time, McConnell cited the fact that it was an election year as the reason for his decision.
A number of other Republicans have joined Democrats in opposing the apparent hypocrisy.
“When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. “And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it. So I would not support it.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, echoed her sentiment.
“In the abstract, I would do the same thing in 2020 that I would in 2016,” he said.
As for Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs the judiciary committee and is up for re-election in November, the jury is still out.
“We’ve got to see where the market is, what other senators think,” he equivocated.
Of course, none of the justices currently seated on the Supreme Court offer any indication retiring. Speculation has swirled, however, around whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s continued health issues could render her unable to continue serving on the bench.