WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah’s senators are standing with President Donald J. Trump in the upcoming political battle over the nomination of a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee have both committed to supporting Trump’s controversial decision to announce a nominee to replace Ginsburg this week and move for a confirmation vote prior to the upcoming general election in November.
Ginsburg died Sept. 18 at age 87 from complications related to metastatic pancreatic cancer. The subsequent announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that the Senate would move expeditiously to replace Ginsburg touched off a political firestorm within the ranks of liberal Democrats.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, argue that Ginsburg should not be replaced until after the general election in the interest of fairness.
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney said in a statement released Tuesday. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the constitution and precedent.
“The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee, but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
That trend has certainly played out in recent years. In 2016, Democrats were incensed when the GOP-controlled Senate declined to confirm a liberal jurist nominated by former President Barak Obama to replace the recently-deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.
From Lee’s point of view, that’s just the way the political ball bounces in Washington.
“In 2016, President Obama nominated a replacement for Justice Scalia,” Lee explained. “My Senate colleagues and I gave our advice and consent on the nominee, consistent with the Constitution, by rejecting him.
“This year, President Trump will nominate a replacement for Justice Ginsburg and, consistent with the Constitution, we will again give our advice and consent. If we like the nominee, we will confirm her. If we don’t, we won’t. It’s that simple.”
Lee’s comments highlight another point of friction between the political parties in that Trump has indicated that he plans to nominate a highly-qualified female jurist to replace Ginsburg. That will place Democratic senators opposing the nomination in the difficult ideological position of attempting to discredit the personal and/or professional reputation of a woman, as they tried to do with the recent nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The gender of Trump’s nominee will also undoubtedly impact whether traditional left-leaning GOP Senators like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine will join Lee and Romney in supporting the president.
But Romney, who is also often regarded as a Republican maverick, is sticking to the U.S. Constitution to justify his support on Trump in the upcoming political battle.
“The constitution gives the president the power to nominate and the Senate to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees,” Romney argued. “Accordingly, I intend to follow the constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee.
“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based on his or her qualifications.”