In a surprise stance, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced Saturday afternoon that whoever wins the presidential election Nov. 3 should be the one to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials. Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” Collins wrote.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing 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 3rd.”
Collins’ comments come as she faces a tight race for re-election.
She is the first GOP senator to come forward and break with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) call to hold a vote on the Senate floor to confirm an eventual Trump nominee for the open seat.
Collins had told The New York Times earlier this month that she would not favor voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close,” she said.
In 2016, Collins was one of only two Republicans who opposed McConnell’s effort to block then President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the high court.
Shortly after Collin’ released her statement, President Trump told reporters that he intended to announce a nominee “next week” adding that it would “most likely” be a woman.
When asked about Collins’ statement, President Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that “totally” disagrees. “We won,” he added.
The President blew off suggestions of a reversal in standards set by Senate Republicans in 2016 with their refusal to hold a hearing for Obama’s nominee.
“That’s the consequence of losing an election,” Trump said.
Prior to the announcement of Ginsburg’s death on Friday, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) indicated she would not favor voting for a new Supreme Court justice before the election, saying, “fair is fair.”
Murkowski has not appeared, however, to offer any further comments on a potential nomination since McConnell called for a vote.
McConnell can only afford to lose three GOP senators on the confirmation of Ginsburg’s replacement. But Collins’ statement doesn’t necessarily mean McConnell is perilously close to losing the historic opportunity to cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court. Collins could just be claiming one of the three free passes McConnell has to dole out. Collins is facing a tough re-election battle, and McConnell finds ways to protect his most vulnerable senators to preserve his Senate majority.
My statement on the Supreme Court vacancy: pic.twitter.com/jvYyDN5gG4
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 19, 2020