Republicans will push through a Trump nomination. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health scare raised the question of how the Senate would handle a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from the hospital last weekend after another in a string of health scares, blue America breathed a sigh of relief. Only one more month, many whispered, until the start of a presidential election year when filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court would be off limits in the Senate. But would it?
That was the case in 2016 when Senate Republicans stonewalled President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to fill an opening that occurred with 11 months left in Mr. Obama’s tenure. “Let the people decide,” was the Republican mantra at the time, as they argued that it was improper to consider Mr. Obama’s nominee when voters were only months away from electing a new president who should get the opportunity to make his or her own choice on a Supreme Court justice.
But with the tables turned and Republicans holding the White House, that almost certainly would not be their refrain in 2020 if a court seat were to open up through death or retirement. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, majority leader and unapologetic mastermind of the 2016 Garland blockade, has made clear that he would move ahead with a Supreme Court nominee from President Trump. The only potential barrier would be resistance from his own party on the grounds it would be hypocritical and unfair for Republicans to do what they prevented Democrats from doing four years ago.