WASHINGTON ― Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won’t help to advance President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. He’s been pretty blunt about wanting Donald Trump to be the next president, and about letting him appoint someone more conservative to the court.
“Trust me. We will not allow the Supreme Court to flip,” Johnson said in March.
But before the Supreme Court seat opened up this year, the senator considered filling federal vacancies to be more urgent. In June 2015, when the Senate was debating the National Defense Authorization Act, Johnson offered an amendment underscoring that Obama should have to fill federal posts within 210 days of a vacancy opening up.
Here’s the key passage in his amendment:
It is the sense of the Senate that― (1) the President should comply with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 and fill vacancies of Presidentially-appointed positions, including Inspectors General, within 210 days of the position becoming vacant;
Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13. That means, by Johnson’s metric, the Senate should be voting to fill the seat before Sept. 10. But Republicans have given no indication they’ll give Garland a hearing, never mind a vote, which would mean the Supreme Court seat staying empty for hundreds of days.
A Johnson spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on how the senator squares his efforts to leave the Supreme Court seat empty with his previous push to fill federal vacancies more quickly. Speaking of judges: The Wisconsin senator is also behind the longest circuit court vacancy in the country.
Johnson is up for re-election in November. His Democratic challenger, former Sen. Russ Feingold, is currently leading by 11 percentage points, according to HuffPollster.