Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) drew fury from Democrats when he blocked a U.S. Supreme Court nominee from going forward under former President Barack Obama during the 2016 election year — and says he will do it all over again in 2024 if the GOP takes back control of the Senate in 2022.
He says Democrats would do the same thing.
What are the details?
McConnell, who was Senate majority leader from 2015 until early 2021, famously refused to allow Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for consideration in 2016, arguing that it was an election year and that the next president should make the pick.
Then in 2020, McConnell triggered Democrats when he pushed through the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett just a few weeks before Election Day. Democrats accused him of hypocrisy, but he pointed out at the time that the difference was Republicans controlled both the Senate and the White House — while that was not the case in 2016.
"I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled," McConnell said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday. "So I think it's highly unlikely — in fact, no, I don't think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election."
Hewitt then asked McConnell about whether he would block a Biden nominee if he is running the Senate again in 2023, a non-election year. The Kentucky Republican responded, "we'd have to see what happens."
McConnell was able to confirm three U.S. Supreme Court justices selected by former President Donald Trump, making the court a 6-3 conservative majority and igniting far-left calls for court-packing as some Democrats seek to expand the size of the court in order to add more liberal justices in what they see as an imbalance.
There is currently a movement on the left calling for 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer to retire soon so that President Joe Biden can select his replacement, just as there was a movement under President Obama for liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire. Ginsburg passed away in 2020, and Trump chose Barrett as her replacement on the high court.