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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Republican governor of Arkansas says 'Trump is dividing our party' 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 GarlandUS officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack Democrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office 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 TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' 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 GorsuchConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Trump-era grievances could get second life at Supreme Court MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Supreme Court weighs whether to limit issuance of exemptions to biofuel blending requirements The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill 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 GinsburgCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE is 86, Stephen BreyerStephen Breyer Distortions in census numbers give a boost to Team Trump Supreme Court weighs leniency for crack cocaine sentences The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana MORE is 81, and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasSupreme Court gets it wrong again, denying justice to those in uniform Overnight Defense: Top general drops objection to major change in prosecuting military sexual assault | Supreme Court declines to take up case from former West Point cadet | Pentagon says 'small' attacks not affecting Afghanistan withdrawal Supreme Court declines to hear case over former West Point cadet's rape allegations 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.