Graham says he'd hold Supreme Court seat open if there is a vacancy in last year of Trump's term

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday said he would be willing to hold a Supreme Court seat open until after the election if there is a vacancy during the last year of President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE’s term.

The remarks came after an audience booed and jeered at him as he defended Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

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“This may make you feel better, but I really don’t care,” Graham said. “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.”

The remarks referenced the blockade by GOP senators in 2016 of Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBad week in Trumpland signals hope for American democracy Threats of violence spark fear of election worker exodus DOJ sues Texas over Abbott order restricting transportation of migrants MORE, former President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Garland was nominated on March 16, 2016, but never received a hearing or vote from Republicans then controlling the Senate.

“If you look back at 100 years, no one has been replaced under that circumstance,” Graham told Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg in the interview at the Atlantic Ideas Festival. “I felt like I was doing the traditional thing there.”

Graham said that he has “honored” Democrats’ Supreme Court picks in the past, a comment that caused the audience to laugh and jeer. Graham voted to confirm Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, both Obama nominees.

“I’m a conservative, proud of it, want conservative judges on the court when it’s our turn to pick,” he said. “When it’s their turn, I’ve honored their picks.”

Earlier in the conversation, Graham defended Kavanaugh and tore into Democrats, accusing them of destroying the judge's life with the sexual assault allegations and saying they should just “vote against him.” 

“Enough, enough, enough. Vote against him, I really don’t care,” he said. “Vote, don’t destroy this man’s life because what goes around comes around.”