U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday has unleashed a political brawl on Capitol Hill ahead of the November General Election. President Donald Trump says he plans to announce a nominee this week to fill the vacancy and vows to choose a woman.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, says Trump’s nominee will receive a vote. Whether the vote will happen before or after November 3 is unknown but the comments have triggered cries of hypocrisy from Democrats.
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, joined the CBS political show “Face the Nation” on Sunday to give his position on the matter. He defended his decision to begin the confirmation process.
“The Constitution is the Constitution. And, you know, it takes two things to replace a Supreme Court judge: one is the president has to nominate and two is the Senate has to determine that they want to deal with that issue at that time,” said Blunt. “And I don’t know that- even with President Obama I said not only will he nominate a replacement in this vacancy, but he probably has a constitutional obligation, just like President Trump does today, to make a nomination– President Trump will.”
Host Margaret Brennan referred to 2016 when she cited Blunt refusing to even meet with President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
“And you said at the time, Americans will be voting in just a few months and that election should help determine the next member of the Supreme Court. Why has your position changed? Is it simply because Republicans are in power,” asked Brennan.
Blunt referred to comments he said he made several times during the 2016 vacancy.
“Which is two things have to happen for a person to go on the Supreme Court. And in the tradition of the country, when the Senate and the president were in political agreement, no matter what was the election situation, the judges went on the Court and other courts. When they weren’t in agreement, they didn’t. And we were in a situation in 2016 where the White House was controlled by one party, the Senate by another. And the referee in that case was going to be the American people. In this case, both the- the White House and the Senate have some obligation to do what they think in the majority in the Senate is the right thing to do. And there is a Senate majority put there by voters,” said Blunt.
Should we expect the hearings to start before November 3rd?
“You know, I don’t know. That’ll be up to when we- when we get the nominee, what kind of vetting needs to be done,” he said. “If we get it this week, what kind of vetting needs to be done and then what Chairman (Lindsey) Graham, R-South Carolina, decides he can do. This should take as long as it needs to take,” said Blunt.
He has not heard whether a hearing will be held before Election Day.
“This should take as long as it needs to take, but no longer. There is plenty of time to get this done. But to get it done before Election Day, everything has to work, I think, pretty precisely. There- Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, nominated and confirmed, in 40 days. Other justices have taken longer than that. And I don’t know how this process will move forward,” he said.
The current U.S. Senate party breakdown is 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has said the upper chamber should note vote to confirm Ginsburg’s successor before the election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said ahead of reports of Ginsburg’s death that she would not vote to confirm a nominee before the election. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a call with Iowa reporters in July that he would not recommend holding a hearing on a candidate.
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