Sen. Lindsey Graham, the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday that the Republican Party has the votes to confirm Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 election.
“They tried to destroy Brett Kavanaugh so they could fill the seat,” Graham said Monday on Fox News, lambasting Democratic colleagues who have vowed to block any such nomination. “I’ve seen this movie before. It’s not going to work. … We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election, we’re going to move forward in the committee, we’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election.”
The move adds new firepower to the political brinkmanship over Ginsburg’s replacement, which could tilt the balance of power on the Supreme Court starkly to the right for a generation. Ginsburg, 87, died on Friday after spending decades on the nation’s highest bench as a fierce advocate of women’s rights and anti-discrimination. Her last public words, given to her granddaughter in the days before her death, were a wish that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
But President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have vowed to move forward with the nomination process while the balance of power is in their favor. The president said he expected to name a nominee this weekend, and McConnell said Monday the chamber would vote on the nomination “this year” (it is unclear if he planned to do so before the election or during a lame-duck session of Congress.)
Graham has been called out for his hypocrisy after he moved to block former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, after the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, the South Carolina Republican said he didn’t believe a president should put forward a nominee in an election, bolstering his claims with the statement: “I want you to use my words against me” should he ever swap his stance.
The senator, who is facing a tighter-than-expected reelection battle this November, fired back at critics this week and attempted to justify his decision.
“I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot you would do the same,” Graham wrote in a letter Monday to Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee.
Democrats’ main hope to block any potential nominee before the election rests on winning four votes from current Republican senators. The party controls a 53-47 majority in the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence on hand as a tie-breaker.
Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), have so far said they don’t believe there should be a vote until after the election. Another potential swing vote, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), said Monday he would not block a nominee, diminishing Democratic prospects.