Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested Monday that if Republicans have a Senate majority in 2024, he would not permit a Supreme Court nominee of President Joe Biden to go through a confirmation process.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell was asked if he would provide a Supreme Court nominee of Biden’s “a fair shot at a hearing” if the nominee is “not a radical, but a normal mainstream mainstream liberal,” in a situation where McConnell was the leader of the Senate, NBC reported.
“Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell said.
He was asked if he would go through the process to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2024. “McConnell suggested he would follow the rule he used in 2016 when he blocked then-President Barack Obama’s high court nominee, Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death because it was an election year,” per NBC.
“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled. So I think it’s highly unlikely,” McConnell said.
McConnell reportedly noted that in 2020 things were not the same as they would be in a hypothetical 2024 vacancy situation. “What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president,” he said.
He made the point that if Democrats were in the same position, they would do the same thing and hold off on allowing a Republican president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in the middle of an election year with their party in the Senate majority.
The potential vacancy would possibly come from the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 82 years old. Over the weekend, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested that she would support Breyer retiring from his position on the Supreme Court next year.
As reported by CNN, the congresswoman told Dana Bash on Sunday, ”You know, it’s something I think about, but I would probably lean towards yes,” when asked if Breyer should retire when this Supreme Court term is over. “I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”
Last year, after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Justice Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court in an election year when the political party of the president also controlled the Senate.
Some progressives have been pushing to expand the Supreme Court and increase the number of justices. During the 2020 presidential election, Biden repeatedly refused to answer the question as to whether he was in favor of taking such action. In April, Biden established a commission to look into potential changes of the Court.
The White House announced that the commission “will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, and groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining.” The commission should finish its report within 180 days of its initial public meeting. The White House added that the creation of the commission is “part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.”
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