Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is running for re-election this year against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), on Tuesday said that he is not opposed to the Senate taking a vote on President Obama’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away over the weekend.
In a Sunday statement, Johnson echoed the calls of his fellow Republican senators, who have said that the next president should choose Scalia’s replacement.
“I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate,” Johnson said in a statement. “America needs Supreme Court justices who share Justice Scalia’s commitment to applying the Constitution as written and to the freedom it secures.”
Though he said he does not believe Obama should nominate the next justice, in two separate interviews on Tuesday, Johnson said that he is not against the Senate allowing the confirmation process to take place.
“I’ve never said that I wouldn’t vote, or that we shouldn’t vote,” Johnson said in an interview on the “The Jerry Bader Show” highlighted by the Huffington Post. “I have no idea how the process plays out, I’m not in control of it. I’m not the majority leader, I’m not chairman of the Judiciary. By the time I would actually take the vote, if it comes to that, I’ll take a vote.”
During a Tuesday interview with Johnson reported by ThinkProgress, radio host John Howell said, “I think that you should go through the process. If you don’t, I think the party winds up looking like obstructionists.”
“Well, John, we might,” Johnson responded. “What I’ve heard Leader McConnell say — and maybe he said something else — is let’s, in the end, let the American people decide. So, if president Obama appoints a Justice Scalia clone, my guess is we confirm a Justice Scalia clone. That’s not gonna happen. We already know the type of justices he put on the court. And so I doubt a liberal activist justice — judge would be confirmed by the Senate.”
“And if we choose to not to confirm, either by not acting or by voting that choice down, either way it’s an action. It’s not giving consent to his nominee. And again, the advice is, let the American people decide the direction of this country,” Johnson continued. “I think it’s a very reasonable position.”
Howell then told Johnson, “I think you wind up looking as a party like petulant children if you don’t put it up for a vote.”
“So you put it up for a vote and vote an individual down,” Johnson replied. “I don’t think there’s much political difference one way or another.”