Mitt Romney backing of Supreme Court vote paves way for election-year confirmation
Updated 4:46 PM ET, Tue September 22, 2020
(CNN)GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah signaled on Tuesday that he is on board with the Senate’s taking up a new Supreme Court nominee during the current election year, an announcement that all but ensures a nominee put forward by President Donald Trump will be confirmed barring any potential missteps by the nominee during the confirmation process.In a statement, Romney did not raise any objections to holding a vote on a Trump nominee this year and said, “If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”With momentum from their conference behind a quick vote, GOP leaders are now making clear they are pressing ahead to get the nomination confirmed before Election Day, which would amount to one of the quickest proceedings in modern times. And it comes despite Senate Republicans’ refusal to move on then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to a seat in 2016 when they said his choice — eight months before November — was too close to the elections.Senate Majority Whip John Thune told CNN on Tuesday, “I think it would be a good idea to move forward.” He said the timing is not nailed down yet and Republican senators will discuss it at lunch Tuesday.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a full-throated defense of his decision to move forward quickly with a Supreme Court confirmation process so close to an election.”Moving ahead with a vote on the forthcoming Supreme Court nomination will be consistent with both history and precedent,” McConnell said in remarks on the floor.
Here’s why a Supreme Court battle could benefit the GOPMcConnell and other Republicans have been fending off accusations from Democrats of hypocrisy over moving forward with a new nomination now after blocking Obama’s nominee to the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.The high-stakes election year battle over the addition of a new justice to the Supreme Court stands to have profound consequences, both for the court by pushing it in a more conservative direction for decades to come and for the ongoing fight for control of Congress and the White House.Senate Republicans are now laying the groundwork for a quick confirmation process and vote, including planning October confirmation hearings.Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that the committee plans to hold three days of hearings for the SCOTUS nominee in October.”Yeah, trying to keep the process like we had before,” said Graham, a South Carolina Republican, when asked if the committee will hold three days of hearings.Thune said that he expects that once the Senate finishes the government funding bill — either this week or next — most senators will leave town for much of October as was planned before the passing of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Senators up for reelection are anxious to get home to campaign.Meanwhile, members of the Judiciary Committee will work to prepare for hearings, meeting with the nominee, and eventually convening hearings.