Senate Likely To Move Forward On Supreme Court Vacancy This Year After Mitt Romney Announces Support For A Vote

US Supreme Court
Supreme Court staff members collect items of remembrance left in front of the Supreme Court of the United States to be kept and preserved, as people gather to pay respects to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr./SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said on Tuesday that he will support a vote this year on a Supreme Court vacancy, making it all the more likely that President Donald Trump will be able to secure a vote for his nominee.

“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney said in a statement. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.”

Trump said on Tuesday that he would announce his choice on Saturday.

Only two Republican senators, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), have said that they oppose a vote on a nominee this year. But to block a vote on a nominee, two other Republican votes are needed, along with a unified Democratic caucus.

In 2016, McConnell blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee for the high court, Merrick Garland, on the grounds that the vacancy occurred during an election year and that voters should decide. But now that a vacancy has occurred again during an election, McConnell and other Republicans are ignoring past  statements and pushing forward on plans to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), said as recently as last summer that he would not recommend holding a hearing, but now supports consideration of a nominee.

McConnell has argued that his position was qualified in 2016 on the idea that a vote should not take place on a nominee from a president of the opposite party. But that footnote has hardly spared him and other Republicans from charges of blatant hypocrisy.

On the Senate floor on Tuesday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that McConnell “is headed down the path of breaking his word to the Senate and the American people. He has exposed once and for all that a supposed principle of giving the people a voice in selecting the next justice was a farce. Sadly again Leader McConnell has defiled the Senate like no one in this generation.”

The Supreme Court will hold services for Ginsburg on Wednesday, and she will lie in repose under the portico on the top steps of the court for a public viewing that day and Thursday. She will lie in state in Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Friday. She will be the first woman to receive such a memorial.


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