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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Biden not ruling out Senate voting to impeach Trump: 'It will depend on what their constituency says' Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate 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."

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McConnell has earned fierce pushback for blocking Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDivisive docket to test Supreme Court ahead of 2020 Majority disapprove of Trump Supreme Court nominations, says poll Supreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture 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 John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment 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 GorsuchLoaded poll questions harm civil discourse Grassley to take back Judiciary gavel if GOP keeps Senate in 2020 Brent Budowsky: SCOTUS will affirm US v. Nixon MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Trump rips ABC over Epstein coverage 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 GinsburgJustices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power Loaded poll questions harm civil discourse Clintons tell Ginsburg they struggled to complete 'RBG workout' MORE is 86, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerJustices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act Justices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power Brent Budowsky: SCOTUS will affirm US v. Nixon MORE is 81, and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Katie Hill calls out a 'double standard' in final floor speech Brent Budowsky: SCOTUS will affirm US v. Nixon 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.