Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the GOP-controlled Senate would work to confirm a Supreme Court nominee if a vacancy on the court arises even though it is an election year, claiming the circumstances are different than in 2016 when Republicans blocked then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.
“Well, Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different. I don’t want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in an interview on “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” set to air Sunday.
“If you look into the history of the country, there had not been an occasion where somebody was confirmed in a presidential election year after primary started when you had divided government,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also said the Senate would consider nominations to the Supreme Court this year after blocking Obama’s nomination in 2016.
“As soon as we get back in session, we’ll start confirming judges again. We need to have hearings, and we need to confirm judges. … The pandemic will not prevent us from achieving that goal,” McConnell said last month. “My motto for the year is leave no vacancy behind. That hasn’t changed.”
Democrats have blasted Republicans for violating the example they set in 2016 by not considering a Supreme Court nomination in an election year, though Republicans said there had been a longstanding precedent already in place.
“Joe Biden urged President Bush 41 not to appoint somebody in the election year. So we call that the Biden Rule, but this would be a different circumstance,” Graham said.
The comments mark a reversal from Graham, who in 2018 said no nominations would be considered in 2020.
“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term and the primary process is started, we’ll wait for the next election,” Graham said at the time.