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McConnell: Senate Would "Absolutely" Fill a Supreme Court Vacancy

Above is a link to an interview of Senate Leader McConnell on the Hugh Hewitt show about a potential Supreme Court vacancy, and below is a transcript of the exchange.

Bottom line: McConnell again confirmed that the Republican Senate “would support filling any vacancy whether by retirement or illness or death in the next year and a half?”

Here is a Transcript of the Interview:

HH: Now if I can switch to judges, Leader McConnell, because it wouldn’t be my show if I didn’t. Over the past week, the President nominated two 2nd Circuit nominees and a 9th Circuit nominee. We still have two 9th Circuit nominees to go. So they haven’t caught up, yet. Any doubt in your mind these three and then the 100 or so district court judges will get a vote?

MM: Oh, yeah. We’re not going to leave a single vacancy behind by the end of next year. And it’s noteworthy that the Democrats are now trying to intimidate the Supreme Court. I wonder if you saw the letter.

HH: I did.

MM: Signed by a number of them threatening the Supreme Court by claiming it is not well, which is utter nonsense, and also threatening to pack the Court if the Democrat signers of the letter didn’t get a particular outcome in a case that they filed an amicus brief in. Look, there’s nothing wrong with filing an amicus brief. I’ve done that. Never in one did it cross my mind that it was a good idea to threaten the Court that if they didn’t decide the way I wanted to, we’d expand the number. All 53 of my members, every single one of them, wrote a letter to the Court telling them not to be intimidated by these kinds of suggestions, and that we supported judicial independence.

HH: Yeah, amicus briefs are usually referred to as friends of the court brief.

MM: Yes.

HH: This was actually an enemy of the court brief.

MM: It was.

HH: And so it was unusual to say the least. I had a conversation over the weekend with a critic of the decision to hold open the Scalia vacancy, and it was very spirited, because I thought that was the best decision you’ve made, or anyone could have made, not to hold a hearing and not to hold a vote. It wasn’t about Mr. Garland, Judge Garland. However, you’ve said you will fill a SCOTUS vacancy if one occurs in an election year this year, and he said that’s hypocritical. And I said no, it’s not. Senator McConnell said last, when the vacancy occurred, that the Senate is a majoritarian institution that Harry Reid created when it comes to nominations. The majority didn’t want to fill that vacancy in 2016. The majority would want to fill a vacancy in 2020. Is that a fair characterization of your position?

MM: Absolutely. You’re absolutely correct. In fact, you have to go back to 1880 to find the last time, back to 1880s to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president filled a Supreme Court vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election. That was entirely the precedent. That was confirmed again by Joe Biden in ’92, by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer in 2007. There were not vacancies existing at the time, but that was the time when the other party controlled the Senate. There was a Republican in the White House. They were quite forthcoming about that. There was nothing I did that was, would not have been done had the shoe been on the other foot had there been a Democratic president, I mean a Republican president and a Democratic Senate. So look, they can whine about this all day long. But under the Constitution, there is co-responsibility for appointments. The President makes the nomination, and the Senate confirms. We are partners in the personnel business up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court.

HH: I remember very well when Abe Fortas was nominated to replace, I don’t remember, but I know very well that when Abe Fortas was nominated to replace Earl Warren, that occurred late in an election year. It was an attempt by LBJ to make sure he controlled the Chief Justice. It did not work, because Abe Fortas was crooked. But there is no doubt in your mind that your caucus would support filling any vacancy whether by retirement or illness or death in the next year and a half?

MM: Absolutely.

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