While there has been an uproar over President Trump choosing to nominate a Supreme Court Justice before an election, Vice President Mike Pence defended his decision and said it was an “obligation” to fill the seat. The Republicans in the Senate hold the majority, with a President from the same party, and therefore, should be able to move through the process without politics coming into the fray.
In an interview with CBS News, Pence said, “President Trump believes that he has an obligation under the Constitution of the United States to put forward a nominee to the Supreme Court. There’s been 29 times that there’s been vacancies, since George Washington through Barack Obama. In all 29 cases the president has made a nomination to the supreme Court during an election year, and President Trump believes that it’s his responsibility and his duty to do that again.”
Pence continued that the administration “is working already with the Republican leadership in the Senate to make arrangements for the process to move forward.”
Mitch McConnell has promised to take up the president’s request and move a vote forward for a nominee before November 3rd. But for this to happen, he needs all of his Republican majority on board. So far, Senator Murkowski from Alaska and Senator Collins from Maine have said they will not vote for whomever President Trump nominates, making it a close call for McConnell. But unless two other senators abort ship, he will have the majority he needs to push a nominee through. All Democrats are expected to vote “no” for the nominee, as they want to win the White House and have the Supreme Court Justice choice for themselves.
Why this matters: No where in the Constitution does it say the president has to wait until after an election to nominate and for the Senate to vote on the nomination. All of this is pure politics. Merrick Garland was nominated by a Democrat president, and there was no way a Republican majority would move the vote forward in an election year. Their stalling paid off for the party, who now have two new Supreme Court Justices to vote for the conservatives on the bench. Democrats, of course, want to claim precedent as their precursor to why there should not be a vote, because they are hoping to win the White House in November. While there is an argument from the Democrats that the president should uphold the tradition, it is only because it serves to their benefit.