Democrats Warn Republicans Not to Rush SCOTUS Vote

Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., conducts a Senate Judiciary Committee markup on judicial nominations in Russell Building on Thursday, September 17, 2020. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.Democrats signaled that they would present a united front and strongly oppose any Republican effort to ram through a quick confirmation of a Supreme Court nomination by President Donald Trump. On a conference call with Democratic senators on Saturday morning, minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (New York), warned that if Republicans did try to approve a Trump nominee before the election, there would be consequences. 

Schumer to Senate Dems on a conference call today, per source: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table.”
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) September 19, 2020

The threat is likely a reference to the idea that a Democratic president and Democratically-controlled Senate might try to expand the Supreme Court—an idea that has been percolating through progressive circles for awhile now and slowly picking up support from the party’s center.

House Judiciary chair @RepJerryNadler just tweeted his support of court expansion if McConnell holds a confirmation vote on a Trump nominee.
The once-fringe idea has gained steam over the last few years. And a number of Democrats have joined it:
— Kara Voght (@karavoght) September 19, 2020

It’s hardly a given that all Democrats would back the move. Democratic senators are, however, presenting a united front in opposition to holding hearings on a Trump nominee. All ten Democratic members of the Senate’s Judiciary committee—the one that would hold hearings on any potential Supreme Court justice nominee made by President Donald Trump—signed a letter urging Republican Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham to stick to his own promise, made in 2016 when roles were reversed. 

New – All 10 Democrats on Senate Judiciary Cmte demand ⁦@LindseyGrahamSC⁩ delay any vote on SCOTUS nominee until next year
— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) September 19, 2020

Democrats have been circulating a video of Graham being interviewed in 2016 when he staunchly insisted he would treat a Republican nominee for the Supreme Court during an election year the same way he opposed confirming President Barack Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland in early 2016.

“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 19, 2020

Despite this, Graham tweeted on Saturday that he would support confirmation of a Trump nominee before the election because he felt the situation had changed since he made that promise—notably that Democrats had grilled Brett Kavanaugh over allegations he had assaulted a woman when he was in high school.

In light of these two events, I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2020