As Republicans rally behind President Donald Trump’s call to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court “without delay,” Democrats on the Judicial Committee urged Republican Senator and Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham to not consider a replacement Justice until after inauguration day.
In a letter signed by all ten Democrats on the Judicial Committee, the lawmakers pointed out that in 2016 Republicans set precedent by refusing to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia because it was an election year.
At the time Graham said if there was a vacancy in the last year of a Republican President’s first term “let us let the next President, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
But Graham quickly showed his support when Trump called for a replacement “without delay,” on Saturday, tweeting “I fully understand where President Trump is coming from,” followed by a thread justifying his change in position.
“There cannot be one set of rules for a Republican President and one set for a Democratic President, and considering a nominee before the next inauguration would be wholly inappropriate,” the senators wrote.
When Republicans refused to hold hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, both Graham and McConnell cited the “Biden Rule” in reference to a 1992 floor speech then-Senator and Judiciary Chair Joe Biden gave against the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.
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As recently as 2018 Graham repeated his pledge to hold off on Supreme Court nominees. During a forum hosted by The Atlantic held after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh he said, “if an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.” However, in May, Graham flipped his position, claiming Merrick Garland being denied a hearing was a “different situation” compared to voting in a Trump nominee because in 2016 “you had the President of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party,” whereas this year both the Senate and the White House are controlled by the same party.