17 Republican Senators Agreed Not to Confirm a Supreme Court Justice in an Election Year. But that was 2016.

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Lindsey Graham

In 2016, following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel said “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Ignoring the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and was not the President most Americans voted for, through the Electoral College he became President and the Senate confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

Here are quotes from 17 Republicans in 2016. How many will be as openly hypocritical as Mitch McConnell?

As of September 22, 2020, only Alaska Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski and Maine Republican Senator, Susan Collins confirmed they would oppose a justice. Here’s where everyone else stands:

  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” – Colorado Times Recorder
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): “I believe the American people deserve to have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice, and the best way to ensure that happens is to have the Senate consider a nomination made by the next President. – Senate.gov
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.” FactCheck.org
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.” – Twitter / Yahoo News Video
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term — I would say that if it was a Republican president .” – Cosmopolitan
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.): “I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.” – NPR
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.” – NPR
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa): “We will see what the people say this fall and our next president, regardless of party, will be making that nomination.” – Des Moine Register
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): “It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”- Senate.gov
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.): “The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.” – Senate.gov
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.): “The next President must nominate successor that upholds constitution, founding principles.” – Twitter
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.): “I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.): “The next Court appointment should be made by the newly-elected president.” – Senate.gov
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.): “…I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.” – Senate.gov
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): “The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.” – Twitter
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.): “There is 80 years of precedent for not nominating and confirming a new justice of the Supreme Court in the final year of a president’s term so that people can have a say in this very important decision.” – New York Times
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): “It is common practice for the Senate to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term, and it’s been nearly 80 years since any president was permitted to immediately fill a vacancy that arose in a presidential election year.” – Senate.gov

List of quotes compiled by Mother Jones.

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Fact Quotes

“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,” she said.

Murkowski said her reasoning is based on the same reasoning that held up the confirmation of former President Barack Obama’s final nominee to the Supreme Court.

Alaska Public Media