Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained that the way Democrats treated Justice Brett Kavanaugh is one of the reasons he believes President Donald Trump should appoint a new Supreme Court justice, even during a presidential election year.
In a public letter addressed Monday to the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, Graham first mourned the loss of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and then went on to explain why he believes circumstances are different than when the Republican-controlled Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016.
Characterizing the Republican takeover of the Senate in 2014 as a check and balance on the closing years of Obama’s presidency, Graham emphasized that things are different now that Republicans control both the Senate and the White House with a president that is up for re-election.
Graham concluded by blasting Democrats for how they treated not just Kavanaugh but also other Republican judicial nominees going back decades, saying, “[I]t’s clear that there already is one set of rules for a Republican president and one set of rules for a Democrat president.” (Read full text of the letter below.)
Graham has faced accusations of hypocrisy for his apparent about-face, with footage re-emerging from 2016 when he said, “I want you to use your 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.'”
Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC to Committee Democrats: “After the Treatment of Justice Kavanaugh I Now Have a Different View of the Judicial-Confirmation Process” https://t.co/qzXgSbgW8S pic.twitter.com/IWAclmrQED
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 21, 2020
Graham tweeted Sunday, “Being lectured by Democrats about how to handle judicial nominations is like an arsonist advising the Fire Department. Democrats chose to set in motion rules changes to stack the court at the Circuit level and they chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life to keep the Supreme Court seat open. You reap what you sow.”
Democrats chose to set in motion rules changes to stack the court at the Circuit level and they chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life to keep the Supreme Court seat open.
You reap what you sow.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 20, 2020
The full text of the letter reads:
Dear Senators Feinstein, Leahy, Durbin, Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Coons, Blumenthal, Hirono, Booker, and Harris,
Like millions of Americans, I was shocked and saddened to hear of Justice Ginsburg’s death. Justice Ginsburg served honorably on the federal bench and was a trailblazer for women in the law. She will be missed.
When the American people elected a Republican Senate majority in 2014, Americans did so because we committed to checking and balancing the end of President Obama’s lame duck presidency. We did so. We followed the precedent that the Senate has followed for 140 years: since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee during an election year.
Because our Senate majority committed to confirming President Trump’s excellent judicial nominees—and particularly because we committed to supporting his Supreme Court nominees—the American people expanded the Republican majority in 2018. We should honor that mandate. Also unlike in 2016, President Trump is currently standing for reelection: the people will have a say in his choices.
Lastly, after the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh I now have a different view of the judicial-confirmation process. Compare the treatment of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh to that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, and it’s clear that there already is one set of rules for a Republican president and one set of rules for a Democrat president.
I therefore think it is important that we proceed expeditiously to process any nomination made by President Trump to fill this vacancy. I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same.
Lindsey O. Graham