The topic of how, when, and by whom Supreme Court vacancies should be filled always brings heated debate, particularly during an election year.
President Donald Trump was recently asked if he would move to fill a hypothetical vacancy on the high court prior to November, and the president replied, “Absolutely, I’d do it,” Breitbart reported.
That response will undoubtedly spark quite a bit of consternation from Democrats who are still sore over the manner in which the Republican-controlled Senate refused to even consider, much less confirm, former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.
President Trump’s affirmative reply to a question about filling a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court came during an interview on Tuesday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked, “In the last five months of this term, for the last five months of your second term — if you get one — would you make a nomination to fill a vacancy that occurred on the Supreme Court?”
“Absolutely, I’d do it. Sure. It depends,” Trump replied. “You know, I don’t know what you’re talking about, time, but if you’re talking about if something would happen now, no, I would move quickly.”
“Why not? I mean, they would. The Democrats would if they were in this position,” he added.
A moment later, after Trump noted that he has seen nearly 300 judicial nominations be confirmed over the course of his time in office, Hewitt asked if the president had anybody specifically in mind to nominate to the Supreme Court, should a vacancy arise.
“I do. I have somebody that I think would be excellent. I do,” Trump said. Hewitt asked if that somebody was Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump nominated and saw confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and who has been previously mentioned as a potential nominee for the high court.
“No, I can’t, I can’t name who, but I have somebody that I think would be really well-received, would be excellent, highly-respected. I mean, that’s subject to change, but somebody that really would be, I think, I think great,” Trump replied.
Apples and oranges
Of course, as noted, Democrats and the media — and even a few moderate Republicans — would surely explode in outrage if President Trump and Senate Republicans attempted to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court at this point in an election year, given how Garland was blocked in 2016, as the Washington Examiner noted.
What all of those opponents to such a move continually raise as an objection is the argument that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) made in 2016, namely that the voters should decide on who should fill a vacancy in an election year. What they forget — or choose to ignore — is the qualifier to that statement that McConnell has repeatedly explained, namely that voters should decide only when the Senate and White House are held by opposing parties, which obviously isn’t the case this year, but was in 2016.
There have been rumors of potential impending vacancies on the high court, the most obvious being the seat held by 87-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been dealing with several health issues over the past few years, but she has shown no inclination toward retiring as of yet.