Collins says she will vote ‘no’ on Supreme Court nominee before election

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is facing a tough reelection bid, said on Tuesday that she will vote against a Supreme Court nominee if one is brought to the Senate floor before the November election.

“My statement was a model of clarity. … I made it very clear, yes, that I did not think there should be a vote prior to the election,” Collins told reporters when asked if she would oppose a nominee before the election. 

Collins added that her decision was based not on the nominee but on the proximity to the election and the decision by Republicans in 2016 to refuse to move forward with Merrick Garland, then-President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. 

“If there is [a vote], I would oppose the nominee, not because I might not support that nominee under normal circumstances, but we’re simply too close to the election, and in the interest of being fair to the American people — and consistent since it was with the Garland nomination that the decision was made not to proceed, a decision that I disagreed with, but my position did not prevail — I now think we need to play by the same set of rules,” she said.

President Trump is expected to name his nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat on Saturday, teeing off a weeks-long explosive fight to confirm the pick, which is expected to lock in a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for generations. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed that he will give whomever Trump picks a vote on the Senate floor this year but has declined to say if that vote will take place before the election. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to announce the schedule for a hearing quickly after Trump’s announcement, which McConnell said on Tuesday will inform his decision on floor timing. Graham told Fox News on Monday night that he would schedule the Judiciary Committee hearings in a way that would allow for a vote on the Senate floor before the election. 

McConnell appears to have locked in the support within his caucus to hold a vote before the election, with swing-vote Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) indicating they were on board with moving the nominee before Nov. 3. 

Only two GOP senators — Collins and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have said they do not believe the Senate should take up a nomination before the November election. A spokeswoman for Murkowski didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about if she will vote against a nominee if McConnell brings one to the floor before Nov. 3. 

Collins, in a statement on Saturday, said that whoever wins the presidential election should be able to fill the seat but did not directly address how she would vote if Republicans tried to move a nomination before the election. 

“Given the proximity of the presidential election … I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. 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 said in her statement. 

Updated at 3:50 p.m.

Tags Chuck Grassley Cory Gardner Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Ruth Bader Ginsburg Susan Collins

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