The decision by Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to ignore the senator’s invented doctrine in refusing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the last months of a president’s term — when it suddenly applies to their own party —ran into a couple of obstacles today when it became clear that not all GOP senators may agree with their extremely hypocritical and blatantly partisan move.
After Senator Lisa Murkowski announced last week even before Justice Ginsburg’s passing that she “would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee” because “we are 50 some days away from an election,” another female Senator considered a Republican moderate declared that “the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”
My statement on the Supreme Court vacancy: pic.twitter.com/jvYyDN5gG4
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 19, 2020
With Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) now badly trailing her Democratic opponent in the latest polls for her re-election bid, she is trying to avoid doing anything that could further erode her support both among Maine’s Trump supporters and among the state’s independent voters.
Those crucial independents have likely been alienated by their supposedly “moderate” Republican senator’s lockstep voting for Donald Trump’s most important priorities, including her vote to find the president innocent of the impeachment charges lodged against him and her vote to confirm Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite the many serious allegations made against him.
Collins is now likely hoping that her opposition to confirming any nominee that Trump may submit before he is graded by the U.S. electorate will help convince enough voters of her independence from party orthodoxy and help her sway the ultimate results of her re-election campaign.
It remains to be seen whether Maine’s undecided voters take a “fool me once, shame on you” attitude towards the Senator whose compliant voting record indicates that she has not much moderation or independence left to claim.
With Murkowski already on record as supporting holding off on considering any Trump nominee and Collins’ announcement today, the path for Senate confirmation of any replacement for Ginsburg before the new president is sworn in has become much narrower and uncertain.
With 51 remaining GOP senators remaining, it would only take the defection of 2 more maverick Republicans to tank the effort by Trump and McConnell to ram any nomination through despite the precedent from 2016. With Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) struggling in their re-election efforts, either one of them may find it more politically palatable to not stake their future on supporting a president who is trailing in the polls in both their states.
Besides these two vulnerable candidates whose future in the Senate will depend on this next election, political observers have mentioned three other possible GOP defectors who could torpedo any Trump nominee.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has already shown his willingness to defy Donald Trump out of the strength of his convictions with his vote to impeach Trump in February, but two senators who are retiring at the end of their terms once the current Congress finishes its business may also choose to demonstrate their commitment to the institution of the Senate — rather than to their party — by taking a principled stance on the nomination of a Ginsburg replacement.
If any of the Republicans mentioned above defects from support of Trump’s nominee, then this scheme to steal yet another Supreme Court seat will be effectively dead, assuming that Biden wins the election.
The next few days will be crucial in determining how this plays out.
Flood the offices of every Republican senator with calls, emails, and letters demanding that they treat any Trump nominee with the same disrespect that they showed Merrick Garland after President Barack Obama nominated him.
This nomination belongs to the person elected in the vote scheduled less than 7 weeks away. Make sure they get the opportunity to fill the hallowed shoes of Justice Rith Bader Ginsburg.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.