Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been saying for weeks that she’s opposed to confirming a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
Despite that, she still won’t say if she plans to vote for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, less than two weeks before the election and as many people are already casting their ballots.
Just on Thursday she repeated her position that it’s not appropriate to move forward with Barrett. “I’ve shared for a while that I didn’t think we should be taking this up until after the election, and I haven’t changed,” Murkowski told Politico.
One might logically presume from such a statement that she will oppose Barrett in the Senate’s confirmation vote on Monday. But no!
“Sen. Murkowski hasn’t publicly stated how she will vote on the nominee,” her spokeswoman told HuffPost on Friday.
Murkowski met with Barrett this week and issued a vague statement about reserving the right to vote either way, given that since the confirmation process is underway.
“Early on I announced my preference that the Senate not take up a Supreme Court nomination this close to a presidential election, applying the same standard I used in 2016, but the process moved forward and we are now just days away from a vote to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” she said. “Whether to confirm the nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a decision each senator has to make on their own.”
Murkowski is up for reelection in 2022, and she’ll certainly draw political fire from Trump and at least some Republicans in her state if she votes against Barrett. But she’s demonstrated an independent streak for years, between her crucial vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act and opposing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation (she technically voted “present” for a procedural reason, but she’s in the Congressional Record as opposed).
She also bucked her party in her 2010 reelection bid, after she unexpectedly lost her GOP primary to a tea party challenger. She responded by running as an independent and launching a write-in campaign featuring now-famous ads that carefully spelled out her name, M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I. Against the odds, and with no support from the Republican Party, she won.
That record combined with her regular comments about opposing an election-year Supreme Court confirmation have made it all the more confusing about where she stands on a vote for Barrett.
But Murkowski will have to start showing her cards on Friday, as the Senate begins holding procedural votes leading up to the final one on confirmation. And regardless of her ultimate decision, Barrett is on track to be confirmed in the GOP-controlled Senate.