Mitch McConnell won’t commit to SCOTUS hearings if GOP wins midterms

Mitch McConnell won't commit to SCOTUS hearings if GOP wins midterms

Could Ketanji Brown Jackson be President Biden’s first and only Supreme Court nomination? 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to say Thursday whether he would commit to holding hearings to fill a possible Supreme Court vacancy in 2023 if Republicans take back the Senate later this year. 

Axios’ Jonathan Swan pressed the Republican leader on the issue, recalling McConnell’s decision in 2016 not to consider then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because it was an election year. 

“Can you make a commitment to the American public here today that you would at least hold hearings on President Biden’s nominee?” Swan asked. 

“Most hypotheticals I don’t answer. And that whole question puts the cart before the horse,” McConnell said. “We’re hoping to get into the majority as a result of this year’s election.” 

Mitch McConnell
In an interview, Sen. Mitch McConnell refused to commit to holding hearings for Supreme Court nominees under President Biden if the GOP wins at the midterms.
Joe Biden Barack Obama Merrick Garland
McConnell refused to hold hearings in 2016 for then-President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

The Kentucky Republican noted that if the GOP takes back the House and Senate, he would be interested in working with Biden if “he’s willing to be a moderate.” 

“But with regard to personnel and the other things that we’re involved in, I’m not gonna signal how we’re gonna approach it,” he added. 

Swan followed up, calling it a “big deal” for McConnell to avoid answering the question. 

“You know, in 2016, you made what you called a ‘principle’ argument for not holding hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. You said it was the most important thing you did in your career — most consequential,” Swan said. 

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
The Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday in a 53-47 vote.
Getty Images

“The argument you made was it was an election year and we should give the voters an opportunity to weigh in and let the next President select it. Are you suggesting that you are developing an argument for not holding hearings on a Supreme Court nominee if it’s not an election year?” the journalist asked. 

“I’m suggesting that I’m not going to answer your question,” McConnell answered. 

Swan pushed once more, telling McConnell that people may like to know before the November midterms how the senator would approach the situation. 

“I choose not to answer the question,” McConnell responded. 

Mitch McConnell
McConnell confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.
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McConnell angered many Democrats in 2020 after the Republican-led Senate confirmed former President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett was chosen to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that fall. The Senate confirmed Barrett on Oct. 26, eight days before the presidential election.

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blasted the potential move by McConnell, calling it “so wrong.” 

“I think that’s our responsibility,” Manchin told Axios. “We take an oath of office to do our job … I just hope he doesn’t mean that.”

Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin criticized Sen. Mitch McConnell for refusing to commit to confirming a Supreme Court Justice if the Republicans win the midterms.

Other Democrats have anticipated that their Republican colleagues will take the opportunity to block several Biden judicial and executive branch nominees if they regain the Senate majority. 

“I’m certain that the Republicans, if they had a majority, are going to try to block key appointments,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told the outlet.

Republicans need a net gain of five seats to regain the House majority and a net gain of just one Senate seat to take control of that chamber.

Supreme Court
McConnell said the GOP would work with President Biden if he were to be a “moderate.”
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On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court by a 53-47 vote. Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — voted with all 50 Democrats.

Jackson will be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice later this year to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. She will join the other eight justices at the start of their next term in October.

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