Democratic senators are planning on denying President Donald Trump the opportunity of replacing outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy until after the midterm elections.
Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Charles Schumer of New York are demanding Republicans senators wait until after November to vote on a nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has different plans.
“Given the stakes of this seat which will determine the fate of protected constitutional rights, the American people … we should not vote on confirmation until they have voted at the ballot box,” Harris said in a press statement following Kennedy’s retirement.
Senate Minority Leader Schumer made a similar plea to his Republican colleagues.
“My @SenateGOP colleagues should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a SCOTUS nominee in an election year,” he wrote in a tweet Wednesday. “Sen McConnell would tell anyone who listened that the Senate had the right to advise & consent, & that was every bit as important as POTUS’ right to nominate.”
If Schumer and Harris plan on holding up the vote, then they’ll have to do so without McConnell’s permission.
“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy,” McConnell said in a speech Wednesday on the Senate floor. “We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall.”
Schumer reminded McConnell that Republicans refused to allow the Senate to vote on former President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016 to replace Justice Anton Scalia, who died of a heart attack shortly before the election. The GOP wanted the next president to choose Scalia’s replacement.
Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017 by a vote of 54-45. (RELATED: Kennedy Calls It Quits: Longtime Swing Justice Hands Trump The Biggest Gift Of His Presidency)
Kennedy was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and led narrow majorities to landmark decisions on gay rights, abortion, the First Amendment, and Guantanamo Bay detainees. He also became an important swing vote to balance out a bitterly partisan Supreme Court.
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