Would Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) be breaking precedent if he allowed a Supreme Court nominee a hearing and a vote in 2020?
Democrats say yes, since McConnell denied President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing. At the time McConnell said: “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.”
Now McConnell is singing a different tune, but he says he isn’t ignoring precedent, because in 2020, Republicans will, most likely, have control of the Senate and the White House. Democrats only had the White House in 2016.
“The Senate in the hands of one party and the White House in the hands of another in a presidential election year,” McConnell said during a press conference. “That is what we had in 2016.”
We were also guaranteed a new president in 2016. In 2020, we may keep President Donald Trump.
McConnell had based his Garland decision off a speech from then Sen. Joe Biden in 1992, where he argued that if a Supreme Court seat became vacant, then President George H.W. Bush should not nominate someone until after that year’s election. Bush might have remained president, as he was only in his first term, but Democrats controlled the Senate. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made a similar statement at the end of President George W. Bush’s term, but just as in 1992, no Supreme Court vacancy occurred.
This is all just hypothetical at this point, but McConnell would be in a different position than Biden was in 1992, or Schumer was in 2007, or McConnell himself was in 2016, since Republicans would control the Senate and the White House.