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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlorida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill 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 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, 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 TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report 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 GorsuchWisconsin Democrats chair bashes Supreme Court decision on voting: 'I am about to explode' Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting deadline Supreme Court won't hear challenge to DC Metro ban on religious ads MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughWisconsin Democrats chair bashes Supreme Court decision on voting: 'I am about to explode' Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting deadline A woman accuses Biden of sexual assault — and few liberals listen 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 GinsburgSupreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting deadline Supreme Court sides with police in traffic stop case Supreme Court postpones April arguments MORE is 86, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting deadline Supreme Court postpones April arguments Supreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense MORE is 81, and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasSupreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting deadline Supreme Court sides with police in traffic stop case Supreme Court won't hear challenge to DC Metro ban on religious ads 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.