McConnell: GOP would 'absolutely' fill Supreme Court seat next year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' It's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE (R-Ky.) pledged Tuesday that Republicans would fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2019 or 2020, arguing the dynamic is different now than when the party held open a seat in 2016.

Asked during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt if Republicans would support filing a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2019 or 2020, McConnell said "absolutely."

ADVERTISEMENT

McConnell has earned fierce pushback for blocking Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandProgressives see Breyer retirement as cold comfort The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Are the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? MORE, former President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, from getting a hearing or a vote. But he's said that Republicans would fill a vacancy ahead of the 2020 presidential election. He has argued that there was a divided government in 2016, but there would not be in 2019 or 2020 because Republicans control both the Senate and White House.

"You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time, back to 1880s to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president filled a Supreme Court vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election. That was entirely the precedent," McConnell said on Tuesday about his decision to block Garland.

"There was nothing I did that was, would not have been done had the shoe been on the other foot had there been a … Republican president and a Democratic Senate. So look, they can whine about this all day long. But under the Constitution, there is co-responsibility for appointments," McConnell added.

Republicans have put a premium on confirming President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE's judicial nominees. In addition to setting a record on the number of circuit court picks confirmed, Trump has also gotten two Supreme Court nominees through the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump's two nominees, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Will the justices end race-based affirmative action?  Supreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Will the justices end race-based affirmative action?  Are the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? MORE, at 52 and 54, respectively, are the court's two youngest justices.

Three of the nine current justices on the Supreme Court are 70 or older: Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgProgressives see Breyer retirement as cold comfort Documentary to be released on Gabby Giffords's recovery from shooting The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Breaking: Justice Breyer to retire MORE is 86, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerProgressives see Breyer retirement as cold comfort Briefing in brief: Biden committed to naming Black woman to Supreme Court The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement MORE is 81, and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasWill the justices end race-based affirmative action?  Supreme Court just added affirmative action to its list of conservative unfinished business Are the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? MORE is 71. Ginsburg and Breyer are both members of the court's liberal wing, while Thomas is a conservative. 

The Supreme Court announced last month that Ginsburg had completed three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas.

“This audience can see that I am alive. And I am on my way to being very well,” she said at the annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.