Senate

Graham says if GOP were in charge, Jackson wouldn’t have been nominee

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indicated on Monday that Senate Republicans wouldn’t have accepted Ketanji Brown Jackson as a Supreme Court pick if they controlled the Senate and sent a warning shot about how Republicans will treat any Supreme Court nominees in 2023 or 2024.

“If we get back the Senate and we’re in charge of this body and there is judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side. But if we were in charge, she would not have been before this committee. You would have had somebody more moderate than this,” Graham said during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

Graham’s comments come as he’s set to vote “no” on Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination — the first time he’ll oppose a Supreme Court pick since joining the Senate.

Republicans previously refused to move Merrick Garland’s 2016 Supreme Court nomination, arguing that it was in line with how Supreme Court nominees had been treated in a presidential election year when the White House and the Senate were controlled by different parties. If Republicans had kept control of the Senate after the 2020 election, that would give them the ability to similarly have refused to take up whoever President Biden nominated to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer.

If Republicans had kept control of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was expected to be chairman of the committee, and he’s likely to become chairman if Republicans win back the Senate in the November midterm elections.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he would not let President Biden fill a Supreme Court seat in 2024.

“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled. So I think it’s highly unlikely,” McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in 2021. 

McConnell has declined to say how he would treat a Supreme Court vacancy that arises in 2023. 

Graham, however, indicated that Republicans could take a hard line on moving Biden’s judicial nominees if they take back the Senate in November.

“I want you to know right now the process you started to go to a simple majority vote is going to rear its head here pretty soon where we’re in charge, then we’ll talk about judges differently,” he said. 

Republicans voted in 2017 to get rid of the 60-vote hurdle for Supreme Court nominees, following a step Democrats took for lower-court nominees in 2013.

Democrats immediately seized on Graham’s comments, arguing that they underscored why Democrats need to keep control of the majority in the Senate November election.

“If Senate Republicans had their way, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court would not even have received a hearing,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesperson Nora Keefe.

“Republicans’ shameful and relentless attacks on a nominee as qualified as Judge Jackson reinforce the stakes of this year’s election and will remind voters why we must defend and expand our Democratic Senate majority with the power to confirm Supreme Court justices,” she added. 

 

Tags Biden Chuck Grassley Hugh Hewitt Joe Biden Ketanji Brown Jackson Ketanji Brown Jackson Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell

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