Senate

Collins: President elected Nov. 3 should fill Supreme Court vacancy

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key centrist vote in the Senate, said Saturday that the upper chamber should not vote to confirm late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor before the election and that the nominee should be chosen by whoever wins on Nov. 3. 

"Given the proximity of the presidential election ... I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election," Collins said in a statement. "In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd." 

Collins, however, said she would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee beginning the process of reviewing the credentials of the person President Trump is expected to nominate in the next several days. 

The president said he will make his selection "without delay," which Collins said is within Trump's "constitutional authority."

But she said, "In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently-no matter which political party is in power."   

Collins is the second Senate Republican to say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should not hold a Supreme Court confirmation vote before Election Day, and she is the first GOP senator to say so since Ginsburg's death was announced Friday evening. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told The Hill in late July that it would create a "double standard" to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before 2021 and that she "would not support" doing so.

Murkowski reiterated her position in an interview with Alaska Public Media shortly before news broke of Ginsburg's death.  

"I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election," she said.

Republicans control 53 Senate seats and could not afford any more than three defections and still confirm Trump's nominee to the high court, assuming that all 47 members of the Senate Democratic caucus would oppose the pick.

Collins was a pivotal player in the Senate's last Supreme Court confirmation battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

While Murkowski announced her opposition to Kavanaugh, Collins laid out a powerful 40-minute speech on the Senate floor in Kavanaugh's favor and her support helped the nominee eek out 50 votes.  

Collins is now in the toughest re-election race of her Senate career in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

A New York Times/Siena College poll published Friday showed Collins trailing her Democratic challenger Sara Gideon by five points, 44 percent to 49 percent.

The poll showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading Trump by 17 points, 55 percent to 38 percent in Maine.  

Updated: 4:41 p.m.; 5:23 p.m.

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