Shortly after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was announced on Friday night, Republican senators began weighing in on the prospect of filling her seat on the Supreme Court before the election. Such an act would radically reshape the course of American politics over the next half decade while also directly contradicting the GOP’s 2016 stance on nominating a justice during an election year.
“I want you to use my words against me,” Lindsey Graham said following the death of Antonin Scalia in February of 2016. “If there’s a Republican president [elected] in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’” Four years later, Democrats intend to follow the advice of the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
To date, two Republicans — Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — have stated that they would not vote on a nominee prior to the election. According to a Reuters poll from this weekend, the pair is joined by 62 percent of Americans who believe that the vacancy should be filled by whoever wins on November 3. As lawmakers continue to come forward, Intelligencer will update the following list of senators who support an expedited process to fill Ginsburg’s seat ahead of the election.
GOP Senators Who Oppose Vote Before Election
Lisa Murkowsi, Alaska
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.” Murkowski added that she believed “the same standard” that the GOP put into place in 2016 “must apply” in 2016.
Susan Collins, Maine
“I do not believe the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” Collins stated on Saturday. “In fairness to the American people, who will either be reelecting the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3.”
The Biggest Question Marks
Mitt Romney, Utah
Romney praised Ginsburg’s “distinguished service” but did not state if he would support a replacement process before the election. Considering the Utah senator’s past condemnations of Trump during the 2016 election and his vote to impeach him earlier this year, a plan to move a nominee forward may hinge on Romney.
Chuck Grassley, Iowa
Grassley has yet to make a comment about the vacancy after Ginsburg’s death, though he did state in July that “if I were chairman of the committee and this vacancy occurred, I would not have a hearing on it because that’s what I promised the people in 2016.” On Friday night, he released a statement celebrating RBG’s legacy, per the Des Moines Register:
Grassley praised Ginsburg as a leader who “fought tirelessly for greater justice, equality and opportunity for all people.”
“She was a trailblazer in so many ways and for so many people,” he said. “Her sharp legal mind, tenacity and resilience leave a remarkable imprint on our nation and her legacy will live on for generations to come. Barbara and I join our nation in mourning her passing.”
Cory Gardner, Colorado
Gardner, who is facing a tough reelection fight, has not confirmed if he would support a preelection nomination process, stating on Saturday that the nation needs to “reflect” on Ginsburg’s legacy “before the politics begin.”
Joni Ernst, Iowa
Though Ernst, who is facing a tough reelection fight, sent out fundraising emails based on maintaining Republican control of the Supreme Court minutes after Ginsburg’s death was announced, she has not commented on the prospect of a preelection vote. In July, however, she said that “it is a lame-duck session, I would support going ahead with any hearings that we might have. And if it comes to an appointment prior to the end of the year, I would be supportive of that.”
Dan Sullivan, Alaska
There has been no confirmation from Sullivan on his decision to date. “I think right now the moment is to be respectful and remember her legacy,” he said on Friday. “There will be plenty of opportunity to talk about next steps after this.” Sullivan is up for reelection this November against independent challenger Dr. Al Gross.
GOP Senators Who Still Haven’t Taken a Position
John Boozman, Arkansas
Boozman has not confirmed if he would support a preelection nomination process. On Friday, he commended Ginsburg on Twitter: “She battled cancer as fiercely as she made and defended ideas in the public square during her long public service career.”
Marco Rubio, Florida
Rubio has not confirmed if he would support a preelection nomination process. In a statement released on Friday, he wrote that he admired Ginsburg’s “passionate commitment to justice and her first rate intellect,” as well as her friendship with Antonin Scalia.
Mike Crapo, Idaho
The senator praised the commitment of the “stalwart leader” but did not confirm if he would support a preelection nomination process.
Jim Risch, Idaho
Risch has not confirmed if he would support a preelection nomination process, though in a statement he praised Ginsburg and her friendship with Antonin Scalia.
Todd Young, Indiana
Young has not confirmed if he would support a preelection nomination process, though he stated that he admired Ginsburg’s “commitment to public service.”
Pat Roberts, Kansas
Roberts stated that “the legacy she leaves behind will never be forgotten,” but did not comment on a preelection nomination process.
Rand Paul, Kentucky
Paul said that Ginsburg leaves behind “a legacy of thoughtful public service,” though he did not yet state if he would support a preelection nomination process.
Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
“Justice Ginsburg’s death adds to the tragedies of 2020,” Cassidy said in a statement. He did not address his stance on a preelection nomination process.
John Kennedy, Louisiana
On Friday, Kennedy said that he and his wife “mourn with Justice Ginsburg’s family and the American people.” He has yet to state if he supports a preelection nomination process.
Roger Wicker, Mississippi
On Friday Wicker said that Ginsburg’s “sharp intellect and passion for equality left a significant impact on the court.” He did not state if he would support a preelection nomination process.
Josh Hawley, Missouri
Hawley, whom Trump added to his SCOTUS long list earlier this month, has not commented on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Deb Fischer, Nebraska
Fischer stated that she joined ” all Americans in recognizing her dedicated 27 years of service on the Supreme Court” but did not comment on her support for a preelection nomination process.
Ben Sasse, Nebraska
Sasse has not yet commented on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Richard Burr, North Carolina
Burr described Ginsburg as a “trailblazer and a tireless advocate for equality and opportunity for all Americans.” He did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
John Hoeven, North Dakota
Hoevens described Ginsburg as a “trailblazer who devoted her life to serving the American people.” He did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
Cramer tweeted that “heaven has gained an American giant.” He did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma
Inhofe commended Ginsburg’s “lifetime of honorable and passionate public service,” but did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
James Lankford, Oklahoma
Lankford described Ginsburg as “a force, a pioneer, and someone who loved our nation,” but did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Rob Portman, Ohio
Portman described Ginsburg as “a brilliant lawyer and a pioneer in the legal profession,” but did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania
“Justice Ginsburg left an indelible mark that will resonate for generations,” Toomey said in a statement. He did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Tim Scott, South Carolina
“We don’t always have to agree on individual issues to respect and honor a lifetime of service,” Scott tweeted on Friday. He did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Mike Rounds, South Dakota
Rounds did not comment on whether or not he would support a preelection nomination process.
Mike Lee, Utah
Lee stated that Ginsburg was a “gifted lawyer and jurist who had a profound influence on our country” but did not state if he would vote on a Trump nominee before the election.
Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia
In a statement, Capito described Ginsburg as “a strong and fearless female leader,” but did not state if she would vote on a Trump nominee before the election.
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
Enzi, who is retiring from the Senate, did not state if he would vote on a Trump nominee before the election.
GOP Senators in Favor of Vote Before Election
Richard Shelby, Alabama
“In the days ahead, I look forward to a solid conservative candidate being nominated and an expeditious confirmation process,” Shelby put forward in a statement on Saturday.
Tom Cotton, Arkansas
“We are going to move forward without delay, and there will be a vote on this nominee,” Cotton, who was added to Trump’s SCOTUS long-list earlier this month, told Fox News. He also denied the claim of Republican hypocrisy, citing the party’s majority in the Senate as the mandate that separates a preelection nomination this year from the sabotaged vote for Merrick Garland in 2016.
Martha McSally, Arizona
“This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,” McSally, who was appointed to her seat last year, said on Friday.
Rick Scott, Florida
Scott claimed it would be “irresponsible” for the Senate to allow an “extended vacancy” on the Supreme Court, adding that “Trump’s nominee should get a vote” prior to the election.
David Purdue, Georgia
“Once the president announces a nomination, the United States Senate should begin the process that moves this to a full Senate vote,” Purdue said in a statement.
Kelly Loefler, Goergia
Loeffler tweeted that the president “has every right to pick a new justice before the election” and that she looks forward “to supporting a strict constructionist who will protect the right to life & safeguard our conservative values.”
Mike Braun, Indiana
“I think most Republicans in Indiana would want us to move forward, and I think there are even independents and others that might as well,” Braun said in an interview on Saturday night.
Jerry Moran, Kansas
Moran stated that he “agrees with Leader McConnell’s decision” to go forward with the nomination process.
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” the Senate majority leader announced on Friday. He explained the about-face as follows:
In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise.
Roy Blunt, Missouri
“Both the White House and the Senate have some obligation to do what they think in the majority in the Senate is the right thing to do,” Blunt told Face the Nation on Sunday, announcing his support for a preelection nomination process. “There is a Senate majority put there by voters for reasons like this.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi
“President Trump and the Senate now have the solemn duty to fill that vacancy, a process that should not be delayed,” Hyde-Smith announced on Sunday. “I take this responsibility seriously, and I support the President’s intention to name a nominee as soon as possible. I am confident he will continue his practice of nominating qualified, conservative jurists, who are committed to interpreting the law justly.”
Steve Daines, Montana
“We now face a clear choice,” Daines tweeted on Saturday. “President Trump will nominate a well-qualified justice who will uphold our Constitution and protect our freedoms. The type of justice Montanans want on the Supreme Court. If Joe Biden is elected, he will nominate, with the support of Steve Bullock, a liberal activist justice who will threaten our Montana way of life.”
Thom Tillis, North Carolina
“Four years ago, a Supreme Court vacancy arose under divided government and a lame-duck president as Americans were choosing his successor,” Thillis stated on Sunday. “Today, however, President Trump is again facing voters at the ballot box and North Carolinians will ultimately render their judgment on his presidency and how he chooses to fill the vacancy.”
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
Graham said he would support “any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.” Contradicting his notorious “I want you to use my words against me” comment, Graham said last month that “after Kavanaugh, the rules have changed as far as I’m concerned.”
John Thune, South Dakota
“I believe Americans sent a Republican president and a Republican Senate to Washington to ensure we have an impartial judiciary that upholds the Constitution and the rule of law,” Thune stated on Friday. “We will fulfill our obligation to them. As Leader McConnell has said, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee
“No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,” the retiring senator wrote in a statement on Sunday.
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Blackburn stated that it is “right” for the Senate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before next year.
John Cornyn, Texas
Cornyn stated his intention to vote on Trump’s SCOTUS pick by retweeting Mitch McConnell’s announcement that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Ted Cruz, Texas
“We are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Ted Cruz, who is on Trump’s list for potential Court judges, stated on Friday. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”
Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
The loyal Trump supporter said he would vote to approve a nominee prior to the election. Explaining his change of opinion since the tanked nomination of Merrick Garland, Johnson cited the “divided government” in 2016 when Democrats controlled the White House but Republicans controlled the Senate. “Right now, we don’t have divided government,” he said in an interview. “That makes all the difference in the world.”
John Barrasso, Wyoming
In an interview with Meet the Press on Sunday, Barrasso stated his intention to move the nomination process forward, also citing the divided government in 2016 as the reason for his turnaround. “If we did something different now we would be breaking with the precedent that has long been established and if the president and the Senate are of the same party, you move along with confirmation,” he said.