Hirono: Dems could keep SCOTUS seat vacant for two years

Hirono: Dems could keep SCOTUS seat vacant for two years
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocratic senators ask IRS to extend tax filing deadline amid coronavirus outbreak Democratic senators ask prison operators for answers on coronavirus plans Overnight Energy: EPA revamps 'secret science' rule | Scientists warn rule still limits research | Trump calls for full funding for conservation program | 19 states sue over border wall funding MORE (D-Hawaii)  said the Democrats could keep retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat vacant for two years if need be should the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace him fail and should Democrats take the Senate in November.

Hirono said if a replacement for Kavanaugh needed to be found, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE should nominate a less conservative ideologue, or else be ready for Senate Democrats to keep the court seat vacant until after the 2020 presidential election if they win the chamber in November, according to an interview with Politico Magazine.

“I think we’ve had those kinds of vacancies before, and we certainly had over a one-year vacancy with Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDC wine bar loses appeal in lawsuit against Trump hotel Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate The Trumpification of the federal courts MORE,” Hirono told Politico. “So the world does not come to an end because we don’t fill all of the nominees.”

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Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court was roiled when California professor Christine Blasey Ford on Sunday publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her when the two were students at neighboring D.C.-area high schools in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegations.

The Hawaii senator said the new allegation had cast doubts about the nominee's testimony to the Senate two weeks ago.

During the hearing, Hirono asked Kavanaugh if he had ever sexually assaulted or harassed someone as a "legal adult." He responded that he had not.

“It somewhat stretches credulity, let’s put it that way,” Hirono told Politico. “I think he didn’t want to lie about it, so one way you get through that is saying, ‘I don’t remember.’ ”

Hirono also called the allegations against Kavanaugh serious, even if he was 17 years old at the time of the alleged incident. 

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“Seventeen is not exactly a baby, either," Hirono said. "These are serious allegations. She has a very credible story. I believe her. And now we have to do more than say, ‘Well, look at the timing!’ and ‘Well, it’s all politically motivated!’ "

"This has to be taken seriously," she said.

Kavanaugh and his accuser are set to testify publicly on Monday.