GOP Senators Accused of 'Hypocrisy' Amid Push to Fill RBG's Supreme Court Seat Before Election
A growing group of Republican lawmakers are being criticized amidst a tense political battle unfolding this week over filling the vacant Supreme Court seat of late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Hours after Friday's announcement of the liberal Ginsburg's death at 87, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that the GOP majority would vote on a new nominee, put forth by President Donald Trump.
Trump, 74, told Fox & Friends on Monday that a nominee would "most likely" be a woman, and that he would announce the nominee Friday or Saturday, leaving the Senate "plenty of time" to pass a vote on what would be Trump's third Supreme Court nominee.
But Democratic politicians, led by presidential nominee Joe Biden, are pointing at this year's election calendar and calling out Republicans for having previously blocked President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016.
When Obama sought to fill late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat following his death that February, Republicans argued that Obama would leave the Oval Office within a year, and that voters should have a say about which president should nominate a judge on the high court.
Now, about six weeks from the November 3 election between Trump and Biden, Republicans in the Senate are the ones pushing to quickly fill the seat while a GOP president is in office.
“If it was wrong then nine months before the election, why is it okay now six weeks before the election?" Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace asked Sen. Tom Cotton, who is calling for the GOP to vote on Trump's nominee after his announcement later this week. "You don’t see any hypocrisy between that position then and this position now?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used McConnell's words against him in pointing out the majority leader's shifting stance, re-releasing the Republican senator's 2016 statement on Friday while addressing the court's latest vacancy.
"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said, copying McConnell's 2016 statement about Garland. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."
Sen. Lindsey Graham is also facing backlash for his shift in positions.
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"I want you to use my words against me," Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had said in 2016. "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.' And you could use my words against me and you'd be absolutely right."
Last month, however, Graham told NBC News that "the rules have changed."
As for Ginsburg herself, she delivered one last wish to her granddaughter Clara Spera days before her death last week: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."