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Tillis signals support for Trump, McConnell decision to fill court vacancy

Tillis signals support for Trump, McConnell decision to fill court vacancy
© Greg Nash

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisRep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina Grassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge MORE (R-N.C.) on Saturday signaled support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks GOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) to fill the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgSupreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs Cuomo likens COVID-19 to the Grinch: 'The season of viral transmission' For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty MORE.

The North Carolina lawmaker, who is embroiled in a tight reelection battle, argued the situation following Ginsburg’s death is different from 2016, when the Senate GOP blocked President Obama from filling a vacancy on the court in an election year, because the government then was divided.

“Four years ago, a Supreme Court vacancy arose under divided government and a lame-duck president as Americans were choosing his successor. Today, however, President Trump is again facing voters at the ballot box and North Carolinians will ultimately render their judgment on his presidency and how he chooses to fill the vacancy,” he said in a statement.

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“There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench,” he added, referring to former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D), his opponent in the Senate race.

Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGabby Giffords congratulates Mark Kelly with throwback photo of her own swearing-in Mark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat Sen.-elect Mark Kelly visits John McCain's grave ahead of swearing-in MORE (R-Ariz.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLoeffler campaign staffer dies in car crash Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs Graham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign MORE (R-Ga.), who are also facing tough reelection fights, made similar remarks Friday.

Polls currently show Tillis narrowly trailing Cunningham in the Tarheel State’s Senate race, and he has sought to shore up support from skeptical conservatives by aligning himself closely with the president.

The comments follow statements from both Trump and McConnell vowing to push forward on a potential nominee to replace Ginsburg.

“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” Trump tweeted Saturday.

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“Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said in a Friday night statement. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

The GOP’s insistence has already infuriated Democrats who pointed to McConnell’s efforts to block Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandThe five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE from receiving a confirmation hearing in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, accusing the GOP of implementing a double standard.

“Thom Tillis just surrendered whatever semblance of credibility and self-respect he had left and gave it Mitch McConnell on a silver platter,” said American Bridge 21st Century spokesperson Zach Hudson. “Now that his party is in control of the White House, Thom Tillis is hypocritically violating the same standard he set on Supreme Court vacancies 4 years ago. Thom Tillis will say and do anything to salvage his sinking ship of a political career and North Carolina voters can’t trust a single thing he says.”