Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won’t allow a vote on a Supreme Court nominee from President Biden in 2024 if Republicans win back the chamber — adding that he would “wait and see” about confirming a justice in 2023, should there be a vacancy.
McConnell was asked, if the GOP regains control of the Senate in 2022, if he would follow the same rule they used in 2016 to deny a hearing for former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“So I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election. What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president,” the Kentucky Republican said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Monday.
He was referring to the Senate’s confirming Amy Coney Barrett, former President Donald Trump’s pick to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020.
At the time, Republicans controlled the House and the Senate, and the vote infuriated Democrats who pointed to McConnell holding up the Garland nomination in the final months of the Obama administration in 2016.
The vote to approve Barrett gave Trump his third Supreme Court appointment in four years — along with Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — and cemented the 6-3 conservative majority on the court.
Garland is currently serving as Biden’s attorney general.
McConnell, in the interview, said blocking the Garland nomination was the “most consequential thing” he did as majority leader.
“I preserved the Scalia vacancy for the Gorsuch appointment,” he said.
Hewitt also asked McConnell if a Biden nominee would get a “fair shot” in 2023 in a GOP-majority Senate.
“Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens,” he answered.
There are currently no vacancies on the nine-member Supreme Court but some Democrats have been suggesting Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, step down now so that Biden could select a replacement while the Democrats control the Senate.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined other Democrats when she said she is “inclined to say yes” about Breyer retiring in the coming months to clear the way for a Biden appointment.
“You know, it’s something I think about, but I would probably lean towards yes,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I would give more thought to it, but I’m inclined to say yes.”