In a ceremony in the Rose Garden earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. While many Republicans have praised Trump’s decision and want the Senate to move forward on the nomination as quickly as possible, there has been a significant amount of opposition to many any appointment before Election Day.
A poll that surveyed voters in swing states that will play a crucial role in the 2020 election, for instance, found that only 37% of voters believed Trump should move forward with the election. 57 percent, on the other hand, said he should wait until the election and shouldn’t nominate anybody if he doesn’t win.
Many people have also pointed out the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans refusing to even allow hearings on President Obama’s nominee almost a year before the election, but insisting on pushing Trump’s nominee through less than 40 days before the election. This is a sentiment that Sen. Tim Kaine expressed when responding to Trump nominating Barrett today.
“I’ve said from the beginning that Senator McConnell should follow his own precedent from 2016: this vacancy should be filled by the winner of the ongoing election,” Sen. Kaine said. “I intend to follow that precedent and will not support anyone’s confirmation until we know the election results. There are less than 40 days between now and Election Day, and voting is already underway in Virginia and other states. Given the stakes—health care, fundamental rights, the integrity of the Court—rushing a confirmation vote before the American people have weighed in would be reckless.”
After highlighting how things like access to healthcare in the middle of a pandemic is at stake, Sen. Mark Warner joined Kaine in expressing opposition to moving forward on Barrett’s nomination before the election.
“This is not a question of judicial qualifications or temperament — this is about following the standard established by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, when he refused — over my strong objections — to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee 10 months prior to the election. Now that’s the precedent,” Virginia’s senior senator said. “We can’t have one set of rules for Democratic presidents, and a different set of rules for Republican presidents. Our system of checks and balances, which has held strong and lasting for more than 200 years, was simply not meant to bear the brunt of such cynicism and hypocrisy.”
“Virginians are already casting their ballots,” Warner added. “The Senate should not be considering a Supreme Court nomination before Inauguration Day.”
While Kaine and Warner are among a large number of senators (including some Republicans) who have spoken out against moving forward on the nominee before Election Day, it does appear as though Mitch McConnell has the votes to move forward on the nomination. As a result, using parliamentary tactics to delay the vote until after the election is perhaps the best opportunity Democrats have of allowing the election to take place before the Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination.
As it stands now, the Judiciary Committee is reportedly going start holding hearings on October 12th. They’re scheduled to last for four days, which is the traditional length for modern nominations, and would put the Senate on the path of holding a final vote at some point in late October.