Following Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement Wednesday, several Democratic senators have urged Republicans to follow their own lead from 2016 and wait until after the 2018 elections to fill Kennedy’s seat.
After the late Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) kept Scalia’s seat vacant on the court for a year.
President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat in March 2016; after an unprecedented obstruction effort from Senate Republicans, Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017.
Democrats Who Say There Should Be No SCOTUS Vote Before The Election:
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “The American people shld have a voice. A confirmation vote shld take place after a new Congress is seated. My Republican colleagues shld follow their own precedent.”
Bob Casey (D-PA): “The @SenateMajLdr should follow his own rule. The Senate should only consider this nomination when a new Senate is seated in January.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL): “Senator McConnell set the new standard by giving the American people their say in the upcoming election before Court vacancies are filled. With so much at stake for the people of our country, the U.S. Senate must be consistent and consider the President’s nominee once the new Congress is seated in January.”
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “We’re now four months away from an election to determine the party that will control the Senate. There should be no consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until the American people have a chance to weigh in. Leader McConnell set that standard in 2016 when he denied Judge Garland a hearing for nearly a year, and the Senate should follow the McConnell Standard.”
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): “The President just said the next Supreme Court nominee WILL come from his list of 25 judges that passed his overturning Roe v. Wade litmus test. We need to say NO hearings before the election and work our hearts out and take back the Senate.”
Kamala Harris (D-CA): “Given the stakes of this seat which will determine the fate of protected constitutional rights, the American people, who are set to vote in less than four months, deserve to have their voice heard.”
Jeff Merkley (D-OR): “No nominee should be considered until AFTER the election.”
Chris Murphy (D-CT): “Senator McConnell set a precedent when he refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, and he should stick to the rule he set. Under the McConnell rule, the Senate shouldn’t consider any nominee for the Supreme Court until January, and I expect Republicans in the Senate to honor the rule they all agreed to just two short years ago.”
Patty Murray (D-WA): “I am hopeful that Republican leaders go back and look at what they said very recently and give families across the country the opportunity to weigh in — with an election — before moving forward to fill this seat.”
Bill Nelson (D-FL): “I thank Justice Kennedy for his many years of dedicated service to our country. Justice Kennedy was a balanced, consensus candidate nominated by President Reagan. I expect President Trump to do the same with his nomination. I believe the American people should be given the opportunity to express their view in the upcoming election, and then have the Senate exercise its constitutional duties.”
Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “We should listen to what Sen. McConnell said in 2016. President Trump should not nominate, and the Senate should not confirm, a Supreme Court justice until the American people have had the opportunity to make their voices heard in November.”
Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year.”
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “The McConnell Rule is clear—the American people must have a say in the upcoming election Kennedy’s seat is filled. And when the Senate considers the President’s nominee next year, we need someone who will get broad support—not someone that will put special interests first.”
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule. Let the American people have a say when women’s health and equal rights are on the line.”
Democrats Who Haven’t Said There Should Be No SCOTUS Vote Before The Election:
Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “I’m already very troubled by SCOTUS’ actions in just the last few weeks—taking away workers’ rights, voters’ rights & women’s rights. I hope POTUS will take this opportunity to bring Americans together by appointing someone with a well-respected record all sides can support.”
Maria Cantwell (D-WA): “As a United States Senator, I take my constitutional responsibility to advise and consent very seriously. The American people deserve a thorough and deliberative vetting process for whomever the president nominates.”
Ben Cardin (D-MD): “I can assure you that we have not forgotten about Merrick Garland. We know the abuses of @SenateMajLdr and the Republican leadership. What they did to President Obama and his nominee for the Supreme Court was nothing short of outrageous.”
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV): “I will thoroughly review the qualifications of President Trump’s nominee to the Court. Nothing less than a woman’s right to choose is on the line with this vacant Supreme Court seat.”
Joe Donnelly (D-IN): “At some point, the nominee will come forward. And as I’ve said before, I have no litmus tests. I will judge the person on the merits of the case, just as I did with Judge Gorsuch. I voted for Judge Gorsuch because I thought, on balance, that he was appropriate and a good fit for the Supreme Court, and whoever’s nominated and comes forward, we’ll do the same.”
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. #Kennedy”
Maggie Hassan (D-NH): “Any nominee for Supreme Court justice must be committed to protecting the rights of all Americans – including the reproductive rights of women – not just focused on protecting corporate special interests and the powerful few. I also continue to believe that Supreme Court nominees should have broad support from both parties and be able to clear a 60-vote threshold. A strong and independent judiciary that is above politics and willing to stop abuses of power is more important than ever, given that the current President regularly disregards established democratic norms and voices contempt for constitutional safeguards.”
Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “I will not look favorably on any Supreme Court nomination from this President unless “advice and consent” means something again in the Senate and both parties have a seat at the table for Supreme Court confirmations.”
Mazie Hirono (D-HI): “Should there be hearings, I will exercise my Constitutional duty to determine whether any nominee appointed will respect the law, the Constitution, and American values.”
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “The 5-4 decisions of the past few weeks demonstrate how important this seat on the bench is to the decisions made by the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy has been the pivotal swing vote in important cases that have changed the lives of millions of Americans – from marriage equality to women’s rights. He should be replaced by someone who will see both sides of the issues and make a decision based on legal precedent, not someone who will vote solely on the basis of ideology.”
Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “I urge this President to change course and to consider the rights of all Americans, not just a few. I urge him to abandon his ‘short-list’ of far-right, special interest-approved nominees. Under the McConnell Rule, there is no rush to fill this seat. The American people deserve a chance to have their voices heard. I urge the President to show the courage that President Obama displayed and to use the coming months to find a consensus, mainstream nominee who can receive bipartisan support in the Senate.
Joe Manchin (D-WV): “Senators have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials and this includes our Constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy.”
Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “The American people must demand that the President’s nominee reflects Justice Kennedy’s legacy as a voice for both moderation and progress.”
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “It’s important that whoever the President nominates to replace Justice Kennedy does not jeopardize progress on women’s reproductive, LGBTQ and civil rights. In particular, any nominee should uphold the precedent of Roe v. Wade. I will only support a nominee within the mainstream of judicial thought who will protect Constitutional rights and freedoms. I strongly urge the President to nominate a non-ideological candidate who will fairly interpret the Constitution, and I encourage Granite Staters and all Americans to make their voices heard to send a clear message that we’re not going to go backwards as a nation.”
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): “On the heels of another Supreme Court term defined by a Republican 5-4 majority delivering big wins for right-wing and corporate interests, Justice Kennedy’s retirement should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about equality and justice for all. With decisions like we’ve seen this week, the American people ought to be on high alert to this troubling pattern. I’ll do everything in my power to keep President Trump, Senator McConnell, and their dark-money backers from installing another nominee predetermined to assist the wealthy and powerful.”
Ron Wyden (D-OR): “I fully expect the president’s nominee to receive the same consideration that Merrick Garland received.”
TPM will update this list as more information becomes available.
H/t MSNBC’s Garrett Haake.