CALL TO ACTION
36 Republican Senators went on the record in 2016 opposing an election year vote on a new member of the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia eight months before the November federal elections.
Where are they now?
There was hope that at least a handful of them might keep their word following the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg September 18. But no. Call it hypocrisy. Call it politics. Call it what you like: less than a week after her death — and less than six weeks before the November federal elections — only two Senators are on record stating that the voters should have a voice in this momentous decision.
We’ve assembled a collection of the Senators’ 2016 comments. (For a full list, check the links from PBS.org at the bottom of this article.) Many Senators seem to have forgotten how they felt about this four years ago. Contact these Senators: send a postcard, an email or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and a switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.
Use Your Power. Use Your Voice. Quote back their own words to them.
“We are in the middle of a presidential election, and the Senate majority is giving the American people a voice to determine the direction of the Supreme Court.”
“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next president to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.”
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Feb. 13. 2016
“Rarely does a Supreme Court vacancy occur in the final year of a presidential term … Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in.” Feb. 18, 2016
“In light of the contentious presidential election already well underway, my colleagues and I on the Judiciary Committee have already given our advice and consent on this issue: We will not have any hearings or votes on President Obama’s pick.” March 16, 2016
What every Republican senator has said about filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year
With less than six weeks until the presidential election, the White House is preparing to nominate a new Supreme Court justice, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted that the nominee will get a vote.
McConnell acted differently in 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia died more than eight months before that year’s presidential election and McConnell said the Senate should not vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee because voters should be given a say by way of choosing the next president.
McConnell argues that this year’s vacancy, though closer to the election, is different because Republicans control both the Senate and the White House, whereas the government was divided in 2016. It will be up to his fellow Republicans to decide whether they agree.
Confirmation requires a majority, or 50 Senate votes with Vice President Mike Pence acting as tie-breaker. Currently, Republicans hold 53 Senate seats. Thus, if four or more Republicans oppose a vote, and all Democrats also are opposed, a nominee will be blocked.