Sen. Mitt Romney announced Tuesday morning that he supports holding a vote on President Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“The Constitution gives the president the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees,” Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, said in a statement. “Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”
Ginsburg died Friday at age 87 of cancer complications after serving nearly three decades as an associate justice on the Court. Republicans have 53 seats in the Senate and the advantage of a tied vote being settled by Vice President Mike Pence, while Democrats control 47 seats. Trump said that he would announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Saturday.
Republicans have been accused of hypocrisy for attempting to nominate and confirm a new Supreme Court justice just weeks before the election. In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied a hearing for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, on the grounds that it was an election year and that voters should choose who would fill the seat.
On Monday, President Trump noted that “When you have the Senate, when you have the votes, you can sort of do what you want as long as you have it.” Romney, who was elected in 2018, stated that the confirmation process wasn’t about “fairness.”
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney said. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of their own.”
Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office at the conclusion of the impeachment proceedings in February. Romney had been critical of Trump early in the 2016 campaign, calling him “a phony, a fraud” whose “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University” and is “playing members of the American public for suckers.”
Two vulnerable Republican incumbents facing Senate reelection this November have also announced their positions on the Supreme Court appointment. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said Monday that he would vote to confirm as long as the nominee put forward would “protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law.”
However, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, another Republican who is struggling to win reelection, said Saturday that Ginsburg’s replacement should be selected “by the President who is elected on Nov. 3.” Opponents of Collins raised millions to campaign against her after she voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench in 2018.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who isn’t up for reelection until 2022, said that she did not support a confirmation this close to the election.
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