CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday said “it should be humiliating” for Republicans to consider filling the vacant Supreme Court seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, given that they blocked then-President Barack Obama from filling a high court vacancy in an election year in 2016.
President Donald Trump has said he plans to nominate Ginsburg’s successor this weekend, after her memorial services are held.
Just hours after Ginsburg’s death Friday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he would move forward on filling Ginsburg’s seat, contrary to 2016, when he refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama’s high court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, arguing that, in an election year, it should be up to the next president to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“It should be humiliating to all of the Republican senators who joined McConnell four years ago and pledged they’d never do this, ever do this, in the future, and now he’s asking them to reverse themselves,” Durbin said Monday. “Are the Republicans so convinced that Donald Trump is going to lose that they have to fill this vacancy now? I wonder.”
Two Republicans – Sen. Lisa Murkowsk of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – have said they’re opposed to moving forward with confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee before the election.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply,” Murkowski said in a statement on Sunday.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be reelecting the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins said in a statement on Saturday.
If Democrats stand united against filling the seat right away, at least two other Republicans would have to oppose confirming a Supreme Court nominee before the election in order to wait for the next president to fill the vacancy.
“Ultimately, unless four Republican senators are people of principle, who are honest, and people of integrity, we’re going to be faced with this filling of this vacancy,” Durbin said. “This is not good for the divisions in America. We should follow the rule established by Senator McConnell four years ago, and wait until after the election for the new president – if there is one – a new president should fill this vacancy.”
CBS News has learned two of the top contenders are U.S. Court of Appeals judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Barrett serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, and Lagoa sits on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
In addition to McConnell, some other Senate Republicans have said they will move swiftly to vote on the nominee.
“The president was elected to do this, and the Senate was elected to confirm this nomination,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas.
But democrats have pointed to 2016 when Republicans blocked Garland’s nomination with eight months until the election.
“They made it very clear that if this happens in an election year, whoever wins the election should be able to decide who the Supreme Court justice is. The people choose the president, the president chooses the nominee,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota.
The fight over Ginsburg’s seat on the high court has shaken up the presidential election and energized the base on both sides.
“Fill that seat” has become a rallying cry on the right, and the Trump campaign is even selling t-shirts with the slogan.
“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to fill that seat,” Trump said.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, if he wins the election, Trump’s nomination for the high court should be withdrawn.
“As a new president, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor,” he said.
Democrats have raised more than $100 million since news of Ginsburg’s death broke Friday night.