For his part, Graham said Saturday that he “will support President [Trump] in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg,” citing Democratic treatment of Kavanaugh and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to nix the 60-vote threshold for lower court nominees. (McConnell took it a step further and got rid of the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees in 2017.) Graham had said in 2018, during Kavanaugh’s contentious nomination, that he would “wait until the next election” if a vacancy opened on the high court in the last year of Trump’s presidency this far into the election season.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has been leading a partisan investigation designed to politically damage Biden, insisted a confirmation vote before Election Day “shouldn’t have any impact whatsoever” on the institution.
“Could the Democrats become more partisan when it comes to judicial nominees?” Johnson asked. “Democrats will blow it way out of proportion, they will completely politicize this but we have a Republican president, there’s a Supreme court vacancy, there’s a Republican Senate. … A confirmation vote is completely appropriate.”
Some Senate Republicans also argue that Democrats would act no differently.
“I don’t know how it can become more partisan than what it is,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), adding that “if the shoe was on the other foot,” Schumer would put a Democratic nominee on the floor. “I don’t think that it would be any different.”
The spotlight is already shifting to the handful of Republican senators who could decide whether Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah will face enormous pressure over the nomination — as will some retiring senators that Trump won’t be able to touch soon. Collins on Saturday said the Senate should not vote on a nominee before the Nov. 3 election and almost immediately caught flak from Trump, who told reporters he “totally” disagrees with her.
The issue is already spilling over into key Senate races in North Carolina and Iowa, with Republicans vowing to support an immediate vote for whomever Trump nominates and their Democratic challengers demanding the Senate hold off until next year.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) vowed Saturday to support whoever Trump nominates without even knowing who that is, a blank check that party leaders will cash shortly.
“There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe Biden will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench,” Tillis said in a statement, referring to his Democratic opponent.
Cunningham, in response, noted that early voting has already started in North Carolina, and voters “deserve that opportunity to have their voices heard, and then, it should be up to the next president and next Senate to fill the vacancy on our Court.”