Durbin: McConnell 'totally inconsistent' on Supreme Court hearings

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress should butt out of Supreme Court's business Inmates grapple with uncertainty over Biden prison plan Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-Ill.) on Sunday ripped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Ky.) for his handling of Supreme Court nominees, saying the Republican has used the court "to play to his political advantage."

Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, laid into McConnell on NBC's "Meet the Press" for refusing to meet with former President Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016 because it was an election year. 

Durbin called McConnell's stance hypocritical, given the Kentucky Republican's pledge to vote on President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE's nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy ahead of this year's elections.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Sen. McConnell invented this new rule and wouldn’t even consider a meeting with Merrick Garland. And now he’s saying that we’ve got to hurry through here and get this done before the election," Durbin said.

"Totally inconsistent. He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time," he continued. "The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage."

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Sunday accused Republicans of playing by "different rules" under Trump than they did under Obama. 

"I don’t think we should be having this conversation, because we seem to be playing different rules with different presidents," Coons said on CBS's "Face the Nation." His remarks came in response to a question about whether he would support one of Trump's Supreme Court picks.

He added, however, that he is willing to meet with Trump's eventual nominee and review his or her record.

Durbin sought to lay out the stakes for the coming confirmation battle in the Senate, noting that the next Supreme Court justice could serve as a swing vote on the fate of the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade.

"Beyond the procedure, beyond the gamesmanship, it is a life-and-death important decision to be made by this court on so many issues," Durbin said.

Democrats are outnumbered 51-49 in the Senate, leaving them largely powerless to stop a nominee on their own. A handful of Democrats may face pressure to confirm Trump's pick because they face reelection in states Trump won in 2016.

Durbin on Sunday would not say that every Democrat would oppose the nominee, given it has not yet been announced, but disputed that senators will vote with reelection bids in mind.

Trump is scheduled to announce his pick to replace Kennedy on Monday night. He conducted interviews last week with at least seven candidates.