All eyes have been on moderate Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) as Democrats do their best to block President Donald Trump from appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court in the wake of the death last week of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But while the GOP may have hoped Murkowski would tow the party line, it looks like she’s already made the decision to side with Dems.
According to the Daily Wire, Murkowski confirmed in a statement Sunday that she would not support the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice this close to a presidential election.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” Murkowski said, as the Daily Wire reported.
She went on: “I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”
“A vote on the floor”
Murkowski’s remarks play right into the hands of Dems, who have called Senate Republicans hypocrites for wanting to replace Ginsburg but failing to consider Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the high court in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama, but denied a confirmation hearing by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Garland was set to replace the late Justice Scalia, but McConnell, citing precedent, said it should be up to whoever Americans chose in November 2016 to name the new justice. Donald Trump did just that in 2017 with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch.
But things are different now, at least according to McConnell, who said in a statement following Ginsburg’s death last week that “no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year” since the 1880s.
“By contrast,” McConnell added, “Americans re-elected 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 promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Murkowski doubles down
Trump, for his part, has vowed to choose a woman for the role. But it seems Murkowski may not even be willing to consider her. The senator told Alaska Public Media just hours before news broke of Ginsburg’s death that she “would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee” this close to a presidential election under any circumstances — and her Sunday statement only confirmed that sentiment.
“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” she told Alaska Public Media, according to the Daily Wire. “We are 50-some days away from an election, and the good news for us is that all of our Supreme Court justices are in good health and doing their job. And we pray that they are able to continue that.”
As Murkowski noted Sunday, what was once a hypothetical has sadly become a reality. But now, it’s time for the country to honor Ginsburg’s legacy by moving forward in the wake of her death.
The Supreme Court simply can’t remain in limbo for months on end. After all, an election may be at stake.