Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly told Republican senators in a letter Friday evening to hold off on giving definitive answers to the media about how to handle the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, particularly if they don’t know how to answer or are leaning toward not holding a vote.
“Over the coming days, we are all going to come under tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination,” said McConnell in a letter purportedly obtained by The Washington Post. “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry. This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may regret later.”
“Again, I urge you all to be cautious and keep your powder dry until we return to Washington,” he concluded later in the letter, reports the Post.
Although McConnell released a statement vowing to fill the vacancy left by Ginsburg with a nominee from President Donald Trump, he declined to provide a timeline for it.
However, McConnell strongly suggested that such a nomination would come in Trump’s first term, in that he outlined the differences between waiting to fill the Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 and filling a vacancy under the current Senate in his public statement on Friday evening.
“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. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” said McConnell.
“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 promises,” added McConnell, concluding: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
In statements honoring Ginsburg’s life on Friday evening, many Republican senators have declined to bring up the topic of filling court vacancies. However, Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) have explicitly voiced support for the idea.
“This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,” tweeted McSally, who earlier in the evening said Ginsburg “broke barriers” in her life and said that her prayers were with the late justice’s family.
This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) September 19, 2020
“My prayers are with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s family at this difficult time. I will support President [Donald Trump] in nominating a strict constructionist before the election who will protect innocent life and safeguard conservative values,” tweeted Loeffler.
My prayers are with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s family at this difficult time.
I will support President @realDonaldTrump in nominating a strict constructionist before the election who will protect innocent life and safeguard conservative values.
— Senator Kelly Loeffler (@SenatorLoeffler) September 19, 2020