Fresh off the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, questions arose about what Republicans might do if another vacancy opens on the court in 2020 — and Republican leadership doesn’t agree on what they’d do in that situation.
In 2016 Democrats attempted to fill the vacancy resulting from the passing of former Justice Antonin Scalia. Then-president Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, but Republicans used their majority to prevent Garland from even getting a Senate hearing. He never had a shot of being confirmed.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people should have a say in the direction of the court, meaning no judge should be confirmed until a new president is elected.
“One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy,'” McConnell famously said in August 2016.
This week, McConnell left open the possibility that Republicans could confirm a nominee even in an election year, saying it wasn’t about the fact that it was an election year; rather, it was about which party was in control of Congress.
“The Senate in the hands of one party and the White House in the hands of another in a presidential election year,” McConnell said, according to the Washington Examiner. “That is what we had in 2016.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a different perspective on the issue.
Grassley told Fox News on Tuesday that the committee would not take up a Supreme Court nomination in an election year if he is still the chairman.
His reason? Because of what the party did in the case of Merrick Garland’s nomination.
“Because I pledged that in 2016,” Grassley said. “That’s a decision I made a long time ago.”
Chuck Grassley, on Fox just now, contradicts Mitch McConnell on whether GOP would confirm another Trump SCOTUS nominee in 2020, given its refusal to take up Merrick Garland in election-year 2016.
"If I'm chairman they won't take it up," Grassley said.
McConnell said GOP would.
— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) October 9, 2018