McConnell Open to the Possibility of Filling Supreme Court Vacancy in 2020

October 7, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on Sunday that he was open to the possibility of filling a vacancy in the Supreme Court in 2020.

"Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace asked McConnell about his decision to block former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because it was a presidential election year, specifically asking if he would do the same thing if a vacancy opened on the high court in 2020.

"When you blocked Merrick Garland's nomination from President Obama, you basically said that we don't do this in a presidential election year and that we wait until the election and then whoever the people choose, they get to pick the Supreme Court nominee. But what you just said now, is it's a question of whether or not the party in control of the Senate is different than the president. The question I guess I'm getting to is, if Donald Trump were to name somebody in the final year of his first term in 2020, are you saying that you would go ahead with that nomination?" Wallace asked.

"I understand your question. And what I told you is what the history of the Senate has been. You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year on the Supreme Court was confirmed by a Senate of a different party than the president," McConnell responded.

Back in 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings or meetings with Garland, leaving open the seat for the majority of the year. McConnell cited the "Biden rule," named for when former Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.), then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued in 1992 to withhold any nominee to the Supreme Court until after the election presidential election.

McConnell sounded open to the possibility of confirming a Supreme Court justice during a presidential election year with Trump in office and if Republicans control the Senate.

"If you can answer my direct question," Wallace said.

"We will see if there's a vacancy in 2020," McConnell said.

"But you're not ruling out the possibility since you're the Republican majority leader and there's a Republican president that you would go for and push the nomination of a Trump nominee in the election year," Wallace continued.

"What I'm telling you is, the history is you have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a Senate controlled by a party different from the president filled a vacancy on the Supreme Court that was created in the middle of a presidential election year. That's been the history," McConnell said.