Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority chief, threatened on Monday to block any Supreme Court nominee put ahead by President Biden in 2024 if Republicans regain management of the Senate subsequent yr.
“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled,” Mr. McConnell stated in a radio interview with the conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt. “So I think it’s highly unlikely.”
His place isn’t any shock since it’s in line along with his refusal in 2016 to think about President Barack Obama’s excessive court docket nomination of Merrick B. Garland, now the lawyer basic, saying it was too near the presidential election although the emptiness occurred in February.
As for what would occur if a seat grew to become open in 2023 and Republicans managed the Senate, Mr. McConnell didn’t declare that he would stop Mr. Biden from advancing a nominee, however left the door open to the chance. “Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens,” stated Mr. McConnell.
Stonewalling a nominee in the yr earlier than a presidential election would quantity to a vital escalation in the judicial affirmation wars.
Mr. McConnell’s pronouncements will seemingly amplify calls from progressive activists for Justice Stephen G. Breyer to retire whereas Democrats nonetheless maintain the Senate and might transfer by a successor. Justice Breyer, 82, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, has resisted calls to step apart. Justices typically time their retirements to the finish of the court docket’s time period, which comes in two weeks.
On Sunday, even earlier than Mr. McConnell’s assertion, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, joined these urging Justice Breyer’s retirement, saying on CNN that she was “inclined to say yes” to the query of whether or not the justice ought to depart the bench whereas Democrats had been nonetheless assured of Senate management.
Mr. McConnell’s place in 2016 stood in stark distinction to final yr when Senate Republicans, nonetheless in management of the Senate, rushed by the affirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett simply days earlier than the presidential election following the demise in September of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president,” Mr. McConnell advised Mr. Hewitt. “And that’s why we went ahead with it.” Mr. McConnell additionally gave himself a pat on the again for the method he dealt with the Barrett nomination, saying that it “took a great deal of priority and, I think, skill to get Amy Coney Barrett through.”
He additionally once more known as denying Mr. Obama a third choose on the court docket “the most consequential thing I’ve done in my time as majority leader of the Senate.”
Mr. McConnell’s choice to block Mr. Obama from filling the emptiness attributable to the demise of Justice Antonin Scalia was broadly credited with encouraging conservatives to rally round Donald J. Trump for the presidency, permitting Mr. Trump to in the end identify three justices to the court docket, which now has a 6-Three conservative majority.