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Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans’ hypocrisy on the Supreme Court

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans’ hypocrisy on the Supreme Court

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Senate Republicans blocked filling a seat for most of 2016, now they want to confirm a nominee after Americans have already started voting. Many explicitly said they would do the same under a Republican President. In doing so, they are defying Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish.

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Mr. President, the next Justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course — of course the American people should have a say in the Court’s direction.” ….

“As Chairman Grassley and I declared weeks ago and reiterated personally to President Obama, the Senate will continue to observe the Biden rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision. The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next President may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.” …

“As we continue working on issues like these, the American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue. So let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next President nominates, whoever that might be.” [Floor Remarks, 3/16/16]

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “No wonder he is working so hard now to give the people a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court. The next Supreme Court Justice could dramatically change the direction of the Court and our country for a generation…The American people obviously deserve to have a voice in this matter. It is the fairest and most reasonable approach we could take. During our current national conversation, Americans could make their voices heard on the kind of judicial philosophy they favor.” [Floor Remarks, 3/10/16]

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” [Politico, 2/13/16]

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The American people will choose the next president who in turn will nominate the next Supreme Court justice. #LetThePeopleDecide” [Tweet, 3/1/2016]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “[W]e are I the midst of a great national debate over the course our country will take in the coming years. The Presidential election is well underway. Americans have already begun to cast their votes. As we mourn the tragic loss of Justice Antonin Scalia, and celebrate his life’s work, the American people are presented with an exceedingly rare opportunity to decide, in a very real and concrete way, the direction the Court will take over the next generation. We believe The People should have this opportunity.” … “Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.” [Letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell, 2/23/16]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “As I have repeatedly stated, the election cycle is well under way and the precedent of the Senate is not to confirm a nominee at this stage in the process.” [Press Release, 3/16/16]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “He said he hopes that the politics between the parties will not do a lot of damage to the judiciary,” Graham said. “I worry about that. That’s why I think the 60-vote requirements [to confirm Supreme Court nominees] are good because it requires both parties to get a handful of votes.” [Politico, 4/20/2016]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “My view is that the next president should decide,” Graham said in an interview after the closed-door meeting. “And it’s nothing against him personally. I think he’s a very capable, honest judge.” [McClatchy, 4/20/2016]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “The primary process is ongoing. If you look back at 100 years, nobody has been replaced under that circumstance. If you listen to what Joe Biden said, and Bush 41, you should hold it over to the next election. Joe is right a lot. So I felt I was doing the traditional thing there when it came to Sotomayor and Kagan. I will tell you this. This may make you feel better but I really don’t care. If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term and the primary process is we will wait to the next election.” [C-SPAN, Atlantic Festival see 20:34, 10/3/2018]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “This is a lifetime appointment — a lifetime appointment — and the stakes could not be higher for our country. So it is perfectly reasonable to wait for the next President to make this critical nomination.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” [C-SPAN, 3/10/2016]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “It would be nice to have a debate between a Democrat nominee and a Republican nominee, whether we have two, three, four national debates, or whether they have hundreds of appearances around the country, to have these basic constitutional issues discussed. Then let the people decide.” [ThinkProgress, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “I believe it is reasonable to give the American people a voice by allowing the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Under our Constitution, the president has the right to nominate, but the Senate has the right to decide whether to consent at this point in a presidential election year. Sen. McConnell is only doing what the Senate majority has the right to do and what Senate Democrat leaders have said they would do in similar circumstances.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): “This is a lifetime appointment — a lifetime appointment — and the stakes could not be higher for our country. So it is perfectly reasonable to wait for the next President to make this critical nomination.” [Floor Statement, 3/10/2016]

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): “The American people will soon decide our next president. That person should get to choose the next Supreme Court nominee. Give the people a voice, and let them chart the course for the court and the country.” [Barrasso Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “Americans will be voting in just a few months, and that election should help determine the next member of the Supreme Court. The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.” [Blunt Tweet, 2/13/2016]

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR): “For Senator Reid and his caucus to claim the Senate must vote on this nominee is not only a display of Constitutional ignorance, but highly hypocritical…Our country is very split and we are in the midst of a highly contested presidential election. My colleagues and I are committed to giving the American people a voice in the direction the court will take for generations to come.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “The American people deserve a voice in the nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice. This appointment could easily tip the balance of the court in a direction not supported by the American people as evidenced by 2014’s election results giving Republicans both the Senate and House.” [Press Release, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “And if Hillary Clinton becomes president, I am going to do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.” [CNN, 11/1/2016]

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “Before a Supreme Court justice is confirmed to a lifetime position on the bench, West Virginians and the American people should have the ability to weigh in at the ballot box this November. My position does not change with the naming of a nominee today.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA): “The American people have the opportunity in November to vote on which direction our country should go in. Let the people decide.” [New Orleans Advocate, 3/4/2016]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “We are not going to stand by and allow President Obama, on his way out the door as a lame-duck president, to change the balance of power on the Supreme Court for the next 25 or 30 years.” [Floor Speech, 3/3/2016]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “This is really about an important principle. It’s important to allow the voters, in choosing the next President of the United States, make that decision and make sure their voice is heard rather than just 100 members of the Senate.” [Floor Speech, 3/8/2016]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “The next justice could change the ideological makeup of the Court for a generation, and fundamentally reshape American society in the process. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.” [NPR, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR): “This is not a stall tactic simply to stop President Obama from making a decision, this is a decision to let the American people make that decision.” [TB&P, 4/3/2016]

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR): “I think it’s important that we let the American public decide. They’ve rendered something of a split decision in the last two elections. In 2012, they did elect President Obama, in part to nominate justices and judges, but in 2014 they elected me and a net nine new Republican Senators in part to say, ‘Stop. Stop to the Obama agenda,’” Cotton said. “They’ll have a choice in just a few months to fill not just the White House and the Congress, which is rare enough, but also to decide who is going to control the balance of power on the Supreme Court. I don’t think there’s any reason to rush into that decision.” [TB&P, 4/3/2016]

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID): “As part of its role in this process, the Senate may, at its discretion, withhold consent. The next Supreme Court justice will make decisions that affect every American and shape our nation’s legal landscape for decades. Therefore, the current Supreme Court vacancy should be filled by an individual nominated by the next President of the United States.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue … There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.” [Politico, 10/26/2016]

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):”We will not consider any Supreme Court nominee until the people have spoken and a new president is inaugurated.” [WSJ, 3/6/2016]

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “I believe the Senate should fulfill its constitutional duty by letting the American people be heard in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. Seldom has a Supreme Court vacancy arisen before the election in a presidential election year. Benjamin Cardozo, whom the Senate confirmed in February 1932, was the last justice confirmed to fill such a vacancy before the election.” [WSJ, 3/6/2016]

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.” [Meet the Press, 2/14/2016]

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT): “The Senate should exercise its constitutional powers by not confirming a new #SCOTUS justice until Americans have their voices heard.” [Tweet, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY): “I believe the American people should decide the direction of the Supreme Court.” [Statement, 2/25/2016]

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA): “Before filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court, we need to hear the voices of the American people.” [Ernst Tweet, 3/16/16]

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA): “It would be precedent set, precedent set, yeah. So come 2020, if there’s an opening, I’m sure you’ll remind me of that.” [Des Moines Register, 2018]

Sen. Deb Fischer (R, NE): “It is crucial for Nebraskans and all Americans to have a voice in the selection of the next person to serve a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, and there is precedent to do so. Therefore, I believe this position should not be filled until the election of a new president.” [KMTV Omaha, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO): “We stand at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. The Obama Administration continues to use the judicial and regulatory systems to push through its legislative agenda, shifting the balance of power that our Founders established,” said Gardner. “That is why the next president of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. In 1992, even then-Senator Joe Biden stated the Senate should not hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee until after that year’s presidential election. Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process as the next Supreme Court Justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.” [Gardner Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” [Denver Post, 2/18/2016]

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND): “There is 80 years of precedent for not nominating and confirming a new justice of the Supreme Court in the final year of a president’s term so that people can have a say in this very important decision.” [The Dickinson Press, 2/15/2016]

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): “It makes the current presidential election all that more important as not only are the next four years in play, but an entire generation of Americans will be impacted by the balance of the court and its rulings. Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have all made statements that the Senate does not have to confirm presidential nominations in an election year. I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.” [NPR, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): “In a very unique moment in time, eight months before an election where the American public will decide the direction of the country , why not let the American people decide the direction of the Supreme Court… let the American people decide.” [NPR, 2/18/2016]

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): “While the Constitution says the President shall nominate judges to the Supreme Court, it does not say the Senate shall approve a nominee. Based on previous historical precedent, I support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s intent to give the American people a say in Justice Scalia’s replacement this year at the ballot box.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “We think that the American people need a chance to weigh in on this issue, on who will fill that seat. They’ll have that chance this November. And they oughta have that chance.” [Fox News interview, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) via spokesperson after reversing initial position: “Senator Moran remains committed to preventing this president from putting another justice on the highest court in the land.” [CNN, 4/1/2016]

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “However, given the timing of this vacancy, in the middle of a Presidential election and in an increasingly toxic political environment, I had urged the President to refrain from naming a nominee. I believe he should have left that task to the next administration.” [3/16/2016]

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “Senator Murkowski respects the decision of the chair and members of the Judiciary Committee not to hold hearings on the nominee.” [NYT, 4/2/2016]

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is okay when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it. So I would not support it.” [The Hill, 8/3/2020]

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “This President has usurped power unconstitutionally, and this issue will be before the Supreme Court, creating a conflict of interest. Combined with the Presidential race it is difficult to conceive of a reason to confirm a judge before the end of this term. [Sen. Paul Tweet, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “The president has said he has the power basically to create immigration law out of nothing,” Paul said. “He says he has the power to basically cripple entire industries like coal without ever having been given that power by Congress. So see, we have a Constitutional debate on whose powers is it, the president or Congress? And I think the president sort of has a conflict of interest here in appointing somebody while we’re trying to decide whether or not he’s usurped power.” [ThinkProgress, 2/15/2016]

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): “No Supreme Court nominee should be considered by the Senate before the next president is sworn into office…I believe the decision to not hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee this year is a wise course of action in the midst of a presidential election. As I’ve said all along, this is not the time, to interject into this political process, the decision to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court — a decision that may tip the balance of this particular court.” [Statement, 9/8/2016]

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): “The responsible course of action here, the course of action endorsed by Democrats & Republicans for decades is to refrain from initiating the nomination process in the midst of an election year political fight.” [Floor Statement, 3/17/2016]

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): “Instead of having a nomination fight in this partisan election-year environment, I believe awaiting the result of the election will give the nominee more legitimacy and better preserve the Court’s credibility as an institution. This is the same position that Vice President Biden and Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer have outlined in the past. After the election, I look forward to considering the nominee of our new president. Whether the American people elect a Republican or Democrat, I will judge his or her nominee on the merits, as I always have.” [Statement, 4/14/2016]

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): “I believe the American people should have a voice in this debate. This is a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations, and I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in. [Statement, 4/14/2016]

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): “I will be surprised if we see anybody standing up in a black robe taking an oath to the Supreme Court between now and Jan. 20, 2017.” [Idaho Statesman, 3/12/2016]

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): “The next justice will have an effect on the courts for decades to come and should not be rushed through by a lame-duck president during an election year. This is not about the nominee, it is about giving the American people and the next president a role in selecting the next Supreme Court justice.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “We owe it to Justice Scalia, our judicial system and the Constitution to uphold the highest standards when determining our next Supreme Court Justice. We also owe it to the American people to make certain their voice is heard in this election.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “I believe that Justice Scalia’s replacement should be nominated by the next President of the United States.” [Statement, 4/27/2016]

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): “I don’t think we should be moving forward on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term. And number two, even if this was a third year of this president’s term, this is not someone I would support.” [CNN, 3/17/2016]

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) “I think that the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court is obviously dead on arrival.” Sasse said while Obama “has the right to nominate someone and the Senate has the right to advise and provide consent,” it is clear Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland will not receive a confirmation vote needed to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the nation’s highest court. We should step back from the particular nominee and recognize anytime there is a vacancy to the Supreme Court, there’s a great opportunity for all of us to educate our kids and the next generation and remind ourselves what the purpose of the Supreme Court is.” [Lincoln Journal Star, 3/31/2016]

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC): “The next President should fill the open seat on the Supreme Court, not a lame duck. Our nation is in the middle of an election that will replace this president and it has brought people out in every corner of our country in record numbers to have their voice heard. As elected officials, we need to protect the American people’s chance to have their voices heard in the decision on who will be appointed to a lifetime seat on the nation’s high court. The last time a majority of the American people went to the polls, they elected conservatives and a Republican Senate to be a check-and-balance to President Obama and his agenda.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL): “Rather than nominating an individual who will preserve the conservative legacy of the late Antonin Scalia, President Obama is attempting to solidify his liberal agenda by drastically changing the direction of the Court for decades to come. This critical decision should be made after the upcoming presidential election so that the American people have a voice.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK): “The decision to withhold advancement of Mr. Garland’s nomination isn’t about the individual, it’s about the principle. Alaskans, like all Americans, are in the midst of an important national election. The next Supreme Court justice could fundamentally change the direction of the Court for years to come. Alaskans deserve to have a voice in that direction through their vote, and we will ensure that they have one.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “The American people deserve to have their voices heard on the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice, who could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation. Since the next presidential election is already underway, the next president should make this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “Given that rare set of circumstances, the Senate Republican majority made a promise to use the vacancy as an opportunity to let the American people have a voice. Voters — not a lame-duck president — should decide the composition of the highest court in the land.” [Tillis USAT op/ed, 8/29/2016]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “While Democrats express outrage over the Senate’s decision to give the American people a voice, they ignore their own double standard.” [Tillis USAT op/ed, 8/29/2016]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “When Americans vote in November, they not only will elect the next president and Congress. They also will determine the direction of the Supreme Court, an institution that has a dramatic impact on the lives of every single American.” [Tillis USAT op/ed, 8/29/2016]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “This is about principle, not the person whom President Obama has nominated to fill the vacancy. That is why the Senate will be keeping its promise to give the American people a voice.” [Tillis USAT op/ed, 8/29/2016]

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): “With the U.S. Supreme Court’s balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): “The vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing will not be filled until after the American people weigh in and select a new president, and I believe that is the best approach for deciding whether to alter the balance of the Supreme Court. I plan on making that clear to Judge Garland when I meet with him.” [Statement, 3/24/2016]

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS): “The American people should have the opportunity to make their voices heard before filling a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. In November, the country will get that chance by choosing a new President — a process that is well underway. Until then, our time should be spent addressing the many other legislative matters before us to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and secure our nation.” [Statement, 3/16/2016]

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