Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) may have just sunk the Democrats plan to block the president from confirming a replacement to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, Sept. 18.
Initially, Murkowski had stated she would vote against confirming the president’s selection to the Supreme Court before the next election, and on Friday before the death of Ginsberg, she told Alaska Public Media, “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election.”
In what would seem like the beginning of a change of heart, on Wednesday according to Alaska Media, Murkowski said outside the Capitol, “I know everybody wants to ask the question, ‘Will you confirm the nominee?’ We don’t have a nominee yet. You and I don’t know who that is. And so I can’t confirm whether or not I can confirm a nominee when I don’t know who the nominee is,” she said, possibly leaving herself room to change her view, and seems a complete turnaround to what she said on Friday.
Giving a reason on Friday for her decision not to support a vote on the Supreme Court before the November election Murkowski said, reports BizPacReview, “That was too close to an election, and that the people needed to decide. That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important,” she said, believing she was following Senate Majority Mitch McConnell’s argument in 2016 against a vote on then-President Barack Hussein Obama’s replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, but that’s not the case.
On the Senate floor on Monday, McConnell explained his previous decision. “Here is what I said on the Senate floor the very first session day after Justice Scalia passed. Quote: ‘The Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago,’” he recalled, as reported by BizPacReview.
“Here is what I said the next day when I spoke to the press for the first time on the subject: ‘[You] have to go back to 1888, when Grover Cleveland was president, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year was approved by a Senate of a different party.’”
McConnell then continued, “As of then, only six prior times in American history had a Supreme Court vacancy arisen in a presidential election year, and the President sent a nomination that year to a Senate of the opposite party,” he continued on Monday. “The majority of those times, the outcome was exactly what happened in 2016: No confirmation. The historically normal outcome in divided government.”
In 2018, the liberal Republican Murkowski sided with the Democrats in a no-vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who regardless of her no-vote, went on to become the ninth justice on the high court on Oct. 6, 2018.
History repeating itself could be a hard pill for Murkowski to swallow, perhaps she is having second thoughts.