McConnell: Biden must move to center to get future Supreme Court pick through a GOP majority
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday warned that President Biden will have to tack to the center after the 2022 midterm elections if he expects to fill another vacancy on the Supreme Court should Republicans win back control of the Senate.
McConnell, who has urged his Senate GOP colleagues to oppose Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, told reporters that Biden won’t necessarily get to place another justice on the court if Republicans capture the Senate majority in November.
“I’m not going to go forward with any prediction on what our strategy might be should we become the majority,” he told reporters when asked whether he would commit to holding a vote on Biden’s next nominee to the Supreme Court if another vacancy arises in 2023 or 2024 under a Senate Republican majority.
But McConnell signaled that Biden won’t get to fill another seat on the high court if he nominates someone in the mold of Jackson, whom McConnell has repeatedly criticized as a liberal activist judge.
“What I can say with pretty great certainty is the president who ran as a moderate and who has governed as Bernie Sanders would, would have to spend the last two years of his term being a moderate,” he said, referencing the liberal senator from Vermont.
That means it’s an open question whether Biden will be able to further shape composition of the Supreme Court if Democrats lose their thin margin in the 50-50 Senate, which they control by virtue of Vice President Harris’s ability to cast tie-breaking votes.
McConnell famously kept the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia vacant for nearly a year in 2016 to prevent then-President Obama from filling it. Obama nominated then-D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, who was viewed as a centrist choice, but McConnell refused to give him a hearing or a vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Monday that Republicans would have blocked Jackson from joining the Supreme Court if they controlled the Senate.
“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.
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