On Friday morning, a leftist writer for The Daily Beast reacted to the news that President Trump had nominated a young, 37-year-old former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh for a position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by snapping, “Is there any doubt that if a Supreme Court vacancy opened up right now McConnell wouldn’t rush to fill it?”
Is there any doubt that if a Supreme Court vacancy opened up right now McConnell wouldn’t rush to fill it? https://t.co/wn1p8poKU5
— Sam Stein (@samstein) April 3, 2020
Apparently, in Stein’s judgment, because of the coronavirus crisis that has gripped the nation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should eschew filling a Supreme Court vacancy if one should occur.
The Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim had an answer for Stein that every conservative, knowing McConnell’s history of pushing forward on judicial appointments, knew was coming, tweeting, “No. He told me in the interview that he would.”
No. He told me in the interview that he would.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) April 3, 2020
Kim wrote in an article for the Post that was published on Friday:
In the interview with The Post this week, McConnell said the Senate Republican majority’s commitment to confirming judges is unchanged despite a congressional calendar made uncertain by the coronavirus pandemic, preventing senators from holding confirmation hearings and casting votes …
“This Congress goes on until Dec. 31, and we intend to confirm all of the judges that are sent up to us this year,” McConnell said. He also reiterated his promise that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy this year, should there be one, a reversal from his argument in 2016 that a seat should remain open until the voters decide in the presidential election.
The New York Times reported on March 16 that McConnell has led the effort to convince conservative judges who are eligible to retire to go ahead and retire while the GOP holds the Senate and the White House. The Times wrote:
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions.
McConnell spoke with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday. Hewitt asked,”I’ve never done an interview with you without bringing up judges. So you’ve got a 5th Circuit nominee yesterday. When the Senate comes back, will you be acting on judges? And part two, have you heard anything about any retirements from the Supreme Court?”
McConnell answered, “I’ve heard nothing about any retirements at the Supreme Court, but of course, we will go back to judges. You know, Hugh, you and I have talked about this before. My motto for the rest of the year is leave no vacancy behind.”
Buzzfeed News noted, “One potential hiccup in Republicans’ effort to keep confirming judges as the coronavirus outbreak continues is that hearings for nominees usually involve in-person sworn testimony and that the committee itself has to meet to vote. Social distancing and travel restrictions could complicate that process.”