WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Sunday he would not rule out moving ahead with a Supreme Court nominee in 2020 should a seat on the high court become vacant.
“The answer to your question is, we’ll see if there’s a vacancy in 2020,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told Chris Wallace on Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday.”
In 2016 McConnell blocked the nomination of then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Merrick Garland. Garland, who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated to fill the vacancy created by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. When President Donald Trump took office he nominated then-federal appellate judge and now-Associate Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to the position.
McConnell, in a separate interview Sunday, defended his decision to block Garland.
“You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a Senate controlled by a different party from the president confirmed a Supreme Court justice to a vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election,” McConnell told CBS’s Face the Nation.
The remarks came one day after the Senate narrowly confirmed Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Democrats accused McConnell of hypocrisy for having considered the nomination in a mid-term election year. They argue there is no distinction between mid-term and presidential election years with regard to Supreme Court nominations.
The Kavanaugh confirmation process is believed by many to have been the most contentious for a nominee to the high court in modern history.
Allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh surfaced in mid-September and threatened to derail the nomination.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Anti-Kavanaugh protests rocked Capitol Hill throughout the confirmation process.
Demonstrators interrupted hearings, blocked hallways, and participated in sit-ins in members’ offices.
Hundreds were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Chief Justice John Roberts officially swore in Kavanaugh on Saturday afternoon. President Donald Trump will swear in Kavanaugh Monday evening in a ceremonial event at the White House.