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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced on Saturday that she thinks Republicans should wait until after the 2020 elections to vote on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement — saying she wants whoever wins in November to nominate the next justice.
My statement on the Supreme Court vacancy:
My statement on the Supreme Court vacancy: pic.twitter.com/jvYyDN5gG4
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 19, 2020
“In order for the American people to have in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently — no matter which political party is in power,” Collins said in a tweeted statement. President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.”
“Given the proximity of the presidential election … I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected in November 3.”
.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
Collins statement signalled a complicated confirmation process as President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have already committed to holding a vote on the president’s nominee.
The Maine Republican famously voted to confirm then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite opposition from Democrats and a fellow moderate Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
That position earned her a wave of backlash in the lead up to her re-election bid this November.
Given Republicans’ narrow majority in the Senate, lawmakers like Collins are critical to securing GOP victories. Immediately after Justice Ginsburg’s death, observers raised questions about whether Collins, Murkowski, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who approved an article of impeachment this year against Trump, would allow a vote.
After Ginsburg’s death, Murkowski and Romney refrained from addressing a future vote in their statements, instead choosing to commemorate the late justice. Murkowski, however, told Alaska Public Media just days prior that she “would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election.”
Before Ginsburg’s death, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also indicated he wouldn’t support a confirmation process in 2020. “If I were chairman of the committee and this vacancy occurred, I would not have a hearing on it because that’s what I promised the people in 2016,” he said in July.
After former President Obama nominated Merrick Garland in 2016, both McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. argued against confirming a justice in a presidential election year. Both, however, have argued that Garland’s situation was unique in that different parties controlled the Senate and White House.
In light of these two events, I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2020
Graham, who now serves as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that in light of decisions by Democratic leaders, he would support President Trump’s nominee.