As you probably know, it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s last wish that her SCOTUS replacement not be nominated during the 2020 election year.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg days before her death (source)
When President Obama first nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court vacancy in March 2016, there was quite an outcry from Republicans to wait until after the election to fill Antonin Scalia’s empty seat. (Republicans refused to even grant Judge Garland a hearing some 8+ months before the 2016 presidential election.)
However, in late 2020 when a Court vacancy recently arose as a result of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death (less than 2 months before the presidential election) the Republican Senators were singing a very different tune. In a display of shocking hypocrisy, Republicans put on a full-court press to nominate her immediate replacement for the Supreme Court.
Here are some choice quotes showing the hypocrisy of Republicans like Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell on the issue of nominating a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.
1. Senator Ted Cruz Quote: “Let the Election Decide”
“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”
…This should be a decision for the people. Let the election decide. If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election.”2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
2. Lindsey Graham Supreme Court Quote:
“I strongly support giving the American people a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court nominee by electing a new president. I hope all Americans understand how important their vote is when it comes to picking a new Supreme Court justice.
“…If there’s a Republican President… and a vacancy occurs in the last year… you can say, Lindsay Graham said let’s let the next President, whoever that may be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.2016, Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican -S.C.)
3. Mitch McConnell Quote:
“Rarely does a Supreme Court vacancy occur in the final year of a presidential term … Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in...
The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Merrick Garland nomination March, 2016
4. “If it Was a Republican President…”
“I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term – I would say that if it was a Republican president.”2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
5. “Do Not Start This Process…” (Merrick Garland Nomination)
“The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.”2016, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
6. “Lifetime Appointments in an Election Year…”
“I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in on who should make a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations. This wouldn’t be unusual. It is common practice for the Senate to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term, and it’s been nearly 80 years since any president was permitted to immediately fill a vacancy that arose in a presidential election year.
During a very partisan year and a presidential election year … both for the sake of the court and the integrity of the court and the legitimacy of the candidate, it’s better to have this occur after we’re past this presidential election.”2016, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
7. “The American People Should Not Be Denied…”
“A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”2016, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – Merrick Garland nomination
8. “Partisan, Divisive Confirmation Battle…”
“The campaign is already underway. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”2016, Thom Tillis (Republican Senator, N.C.) about Obama’s Merrick Garland nomination
9. “Vacancy Should Not Be Filled…”
“In this election year, the American people will have an opportunity to have their say in the future direction of our country. For this reason, I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.”2016, Sen. Richard Burr (Republican -N.C.)
10. “Should Not Confirm a New Supreme Court Justice…”
“The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.”2016, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
11. “Too Close to the Election”
“I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”2016, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.)
12. “The American People Should Decide…”
“I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate.”2016, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.)
13. “Full Faith of the People…”
“In a few short months, we will have a new president and new senators who can consider the next justice with the full faith of the people. Why would we cut off the national debate on the next justice? Why would we squelch the voice of the populace? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the make-up of the Supreme Court?”Senator Tom Cotton March 16, 2016
14. “The American People Should Have Their Voices Heard…”
“The American people should have the opportunity to make their voices heard before filling a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. In November, the country will get that chance by choosing a new president – a process that is well underway. Until then, our time should be spent addressing the many other legislative matters before us to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and secure our nation.”Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker – WSJ March 16, 2016 discussing Merrick Garland SCOTUS nomination
15. “Let the People Decide the Supreme Court’s Future”
…the next president should be the one to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. … I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.”Jim Inhofe (Republican Senator Oklahoma)
Quotes of Blatant Republican Hypocrisy on Supreme Court Justice Nomination (SCOTUS) During Election Year
These hypocritical quotes from Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are pretty hard to defend in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. It’s also not possible to claim that they were taken out of context, as there was a unified uproar from Republicans in 2016 at the very idea that a Supreme Court nomination could take place in an election year.
What a difference an election makes! Here’s what Republican senators say about nominating a Supreme Court Justice in 2020 about the same issue: pbs.org
So, what can we do when faced with such hypocrisy and lies?
As the late Senator John Lewis said, “There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise. You have to move your feet. This is the time..”
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