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Senate staff: No precedent for confirming Supreme Court nominee weeks before election

Senate staff: No precedent for confirming Supreme Court nominee weeks before election
© Greg Nash

Senate staff told Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday that there didn’t appear to be a precedent for confirming a Supreme Court nominee weeks ahead of the presidential election.

Schumer, speaking from the floor, asked staff if there was a previous example of a "precedent" of the Senate confirming a Supreme Court nominee between July and November in a presidential election year.

"Materials from the offices of the Secretary of the Senate do not show such a precedent," Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerBlackPAC rolls out Senate race endorsements for the first time Republicans scramble to shore up support in Ga. as Democrats gain Democrats make gains in Georgia Senate races: poll MORE (R-Ga.), who was presiding over the Senate, responded. The secretary of the Senate is responsible for, among other things, keeping the upper chamber's records.

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The vacancy created by the death of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid Dozens of legal experts throw weight behind Supreme Court term limit bill MORE is the second-closest to an election, according to data from The New York Times. The vacancy closest to an election, in 1864, wasn't filled until after Election Day.

According to the Times, the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee in late July 1916, the closest to a presidential election and the last time a justice was confirmed in an election year. Two other Supreme Court nominees selected before the election in 1968 were not confirmed.   

Schumer asked the question Wednesday while taking aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE's (R-Ky.) claim that there is a precedent for confirming a Supreme Court nominee during an election year when both the Senate and the White House have been held by the same party. McConnell hasn't announced if he will try to force a vote before the November election, but with 51 GOP senators on board with taking up whomever Trump nominates he appears increasingly likely to.

"July is long gone. August is over. We’re now at the end of September. And as you just heard, not from the Democratic Leader, but from the records in the Senate as spoken by the Chair, there is no precedent for confirming a Supreme Court Justice between July and Election Day," Schumer said Wednesday.

"The Republican Leader can come up with arguments that twist things, that jump through hoops — but it doesn’t gain say: no, no precedent for any Supreme Court nominee being confirmed between July and Election Day," Schumer added. "Simply, my Republicans friends have no ground on which to stand. None."