Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) says he would likely have approached President Obama’s nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia differently than current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“I probably would’ve handled it differently,” Lott told David Axelrod on an episode of “The Axe Files” podcast published on Monday. “My attitude, particularly on the Supreme Court, was that elections do have consequences, sometimes bad, and I tried to lean towards being supportive of the President’s nominees, Democrat or Republican.”
Lott noted that he voted for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg while he was in office.
“If they were qualified by education, experience, and demeanor and had no other side problem, my predisposition was to be for them,” he said.
But the former Republican leader also sympathized with McConnell’s approach.
“The problem is that in my opinion, and in the opinion of a lot of Republicans, and certainly in the opinion apparently of McConnell, so many of Obama’s nominees have been so bad and so far left that the trust factor is not there,” Lott said. “Was it wise to jump out there the way the Leader did? You know, time will tell.”
“This is a very critical appointment,” he later added. “This appointment could shift the balance of the Supreme Court from 5-4 one way to 5-4 the other way for years. And, you know, that is a problem.”
When asked if the Senate should hold hearings on a moderate nominee to the Supreme Court, Lott said that the Senate should consider a “centrist” nominee that had already been vetted and supported by the majority of the Senate. He added that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, may still hold a hearing.
“If the president comes up with somebody that’s credible and is a little bit more mainstream or moderate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chuck give him a hearing,” Lott told Axelrod.