Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) flipped-flopped on the need for the Supreme Court to have nine justices now that a Republican president is in office, going back on his comments from 2016 that the Senate must confirm President Barrack Obama's nominee.
In 2016, Coons tweeted and spoke regarding the need for Merrick Garland to receive confirmation hearings and a vote.
"Today I spoke on Senate floor abt unprecedented refusal to consider
#SCOTUS nominee Garland #WeNeedNine," Coons tweeted.
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) September 8, 2016
Garland did not receive a confirmation hearing as Senate Republican leaders opted to hold off until after Obama's successor took office in January 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) at the time argued against holding hearings for Obama's nominee during a presidential election year. President Donald Trump then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed.
Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, many Democrats are demanding any confirmation process for Kennedy's successor be held off until January 2019, after the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are banking on the possibility they could retake control of the Senate, which would give them greater influence in the naming and confirmation – or blocking – of a nominee.
Coons, who on Monday appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," called for Republicans to wait on holding confirmation hearings for the nominee.
"I’m a member of the Judiciary Committee; I’ll do my job and review the nominee closely before reaching a conclusion," Coons said. "But frankly, we shouldn’t even be having this discussion. This is an unprecedented level of hypocrisy where the Republicans are playing by different rules when there’s a different president in the White House. For 10 months they refused to even hold a hearing on the vacant seat that had previously been held by Justice Scalia, after President Obama nominated an eminently confirmable moderate judge. We’re just four months before an election, and the conversation is about rushing this through."
"I don’t think we should be rushing," Coons said. "I frankly don’t even think we should be considering this nominee."
Trump is expected to announce his nominee to replace Kennedy on Monday at 9 p.m. EST.