By Jack Phillips
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested that Republicans, if they controlled the Senate in 2024, wouldn’t advance President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee due to the proximity of the election.
In 2016, McConnell and Senate Republicans received blowback from Democrats when they didn’t give a hearing to Obama’s then-Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
“I think it’s highly unlikely—in fact, no, I don’t think either party, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,” McConnell said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on June 14 when asked about the possibility.
The Senate minority leader was also asked about a scenario in which Republicans control the Senate in 2023 and a Supreme Court justice steps down. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell said when he was asked if the nominee would get a hearing.
Last year, Democrats sharply criticized McConnell and then-President Donald Trump when he nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. During Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Democrat senators, including leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to propose legislation to “pack” the Supreme Court with more justices.
For years, however, McConnell has argued that since the late 19th century, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year. The Constitution doesn’t have that requirement.
Now, progressive and socialist lawmakers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are publicly attempting to pressure 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, to retire.
Over the weekend, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN about Breyer’s potential retirement: “It’s something that I’d think about, but I would probably lean towards, yes. But yes, you’re asking me this question, so I would just—I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”
The calls for Breyer to step down came after the justice, in April, warned that progressive-backed efforts to expand the Supreme Court beyond its current nine justices would politicize the institution.
“It is wrong to think of the Court as another political institution,” Breyer said during an event at Harvard Law School. “And it is doubly wrong to think of its members as junior league politicians.”
“Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust,” said Breyer, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Democrats currently have a slim 50–50 majority in the Senate—with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaker. McConnell and Republicans are defending 20 seats, while Democrats are defending 14 ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The U.S. Constitution doesn’t require nine justices on the Supreme Court, although that number has stood for more than a century. The size of the top court was changed several times between the founding of the republic and the Civil War in the mid-19th century.
The Epoch Times has contacted Schumer’s office for comment on McConnell’s latest remarks.
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