Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lisa Murkowski became the second Republican senator to say the upper chamber should wait to vote on filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement on Sunday. “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.”
The Alaska Republican said she didn’t support taking up a nomination in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and she holds the same stance now. Ginsburg died Friday evening at the age of 87 and Democrats, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, are urging Republicans to wait until the dust has settled in the election contest to move towards confirming a new justice.
“We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski, along with Susan Collins, are the two Republican senators who have spoken out on their opposition to voting on nominating a new justice to the high court before the election.
“In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently — no matter which political party is in power. President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials,” Collins said on Saturday.
“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” the Maine Republican added. “In fairness to the American people, who will either be reelecting the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3rd.”
Still, it remains unclear whether Murkowski and Collins would choose to vote on a Supreme Court pick if Senate moves forward on a nominee during a lame-duck session if Trump were to lose to Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he will set up a floor vote for whatever nominee Trump brings forward, noting the difference between now and 2016 is which party controls the White House. “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Republicans hold a narrow margin in the Senate, with only 53 of the Senate’s 100 votes. Depending on the result of a Senate special election in Arizona, the margin could get even thinner between Election Day and the inauguration in January. Vice President Mike Pence can also vote in the event of a tie.
Trump said on Saturday he expects to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court “next week” and will be picking a woman.