Republican Senator Susan Collins (Maine) said that the next Supreme Court nominee should be selected by whoever wins the November presidential election, breaking rank with the GOP leadership and President Donald Trump on the replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"In order for the American people to have in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently -- no matter which political party is in power," Collins wrote in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. "President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee's beginning the process of reviewing his nominee's credentials."
"Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing 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 in November 3," Collins said on Twitter.
My statement on the Supreme Court vacancy: https://t.co/jvYyDN5gG4— Sen. Susan Collins (@Sen. Susan Collins)1600546429.0
On Friday, Collins paid tribute to RBG.
"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women's rights, a fierce champion for equality and an extremely accomplished American who broke countless barriers in the field of law," Collins said in a statement. "Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg surmounted discrimination and sexism through her brilliance, tenacity and wit, becoming one of the most prominent legal luminaries of our time."
"I had the great honor of getting to know Justice Ginsburg personally when the women Senators twice had dinner with her and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor," Collins continued. "She has been a role model to generations of women, and her legacy will live on in the countless people she inspired."
Collins, who is seeking a fifth term, is facing a tough reelection battle. A poll from The New York Times and Siena College released on Friday has Collins trailing her Democratic challenger, Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, 49% to Collins' 44%. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week showed Gideon with a wide 54% to 42% lead over Collins.
In 2018, Collins voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and has received blowback in Maine for her decision.
Hours after the announcement of Ginsburg's death on Friday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to hold a vote for Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
"The Senate and the nation mourn the sudden passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life," McConnell said. "In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia's death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president's second term. We kept our promise."
"President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell said.
On Saturday, Trump showed that he would go ahead and nominate a Supreme Court justice despite the election being only 45 days away.
"@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices," the president tweeted. "We have this obligation, without delay!"
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also said that she would not support voting on a Supreme Court Justice this close to the election. Murkowski reportedly said, "Fair is fair," a reference to Republican senators not allowing a hearing for former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland before the 2016 election.
The Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority, and McConnell can only afford to lose the support of three GOP Senators, which could include Mitt Romney of Utah. If a 50-50 tie happens, Vice President Mike Pence could break the tie and allow Republicans to nominate a SCOTUS justice.