Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he pledged Tuesday that Republicans would fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2019 or 2020, in an apparent reference to the health of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to The Hill.
Asked during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt if Republicans would support filing a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2019 or 2020, McConnell said “absolutely.” He argued that the dynamic is different now than when the party held open a seat in 2016.
McConnell, who earned fierce pushback for blocking Merrick Garland, President Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, from getting a hearing or a vote, said that Republicans would fill a vacancy ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time, back to 1880s to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president filled a Supreme Court vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election. That was entirely the precedent,” McConnell said on Tuesday about his decision to block Garland.
“There was nothing I did that was, would not have been done had the shoe been on the other foot had there been a … Republican president and a Democratic Senate. So look, they can whine about this all day long. But under the Constitution, there is co-responsibility for appointments,” McConnell added.
Republicans have put a premium on confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees. In addition to setting a record on the number of circuit court picks confirmed, Trump has also gotten two Supreme Court nominees through the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump’s two nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, at 52 and 54, respectively, are the court’s two youngest justices.
The Supreme Court announced last month that Ginsburg, 86, had completed three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas.
“This audience can see that I am alive. And I am on my way to being very well,” she said at the annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.