Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Sunday said her position “has not changed,” and that she “would not” support taking up a potential Supreme Court nominee ahead of the 2020 presidential election, despite Senate Republican leadership plans to forge ahead in filling the vacancy left bythe late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, in a statement Sunday, said that “for weeks,” she has said that she “would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election.”
“Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” she said. “I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia.”
She added: “We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”
Murkowski’s comments come after Ginsburg passed away on Friday at the age of 87 from complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Murkowski, prior to Ginsburg’s passing, did an interview with Alaska Public Media, where she said she “would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.”
During the interview, Murkowski based her reasoning on precedent -- noting the situation surrounding former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland.
Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination, citing the imminent 2016 presidential election.
“That was too close to an election, and that the people needed to decide,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Media, referencing McConnell’s argument at the time. “That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important.”
Just hours after learning of Ginsburg’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that a President Trump nominee to the high court to fill her vacancy “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise,” McConnell continued. “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”
McConnell added that “by contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary.”
“Once again, we will keep our promise,” he said. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
But the nomination and confirmation process for the latest addition to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, took 89 days total for confirmation. It took 57 days from Kavanaugh's nomination to his confirmation hearing.
There are 44 days until Election Day.
Murkowski, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, was looked at as one of the final four swing senators who would determine whether the now-justice would be confirmed to the bench of the High Court. Murkowski remained undecided until the final hours prior to the confirmation vote.
Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine,said Saturday that whoever wins the presidency should nominate the next justice.
"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," Collins said in a tweeted statement. 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.”
"Given the proximity of the presidential election ... I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. 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 in November 3.”
Meanwhile, President Trump urged Senate Republicans to confirm his eventual nominee.
“@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” Trump tweeted Saturday.
“We have this obligation, without delay!” He added.