Sep 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top GOP senator: Process must work "pretty precisely" to confirm SCOTUS pick pre-election

Senate Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that "there is plenty of time" to confirm a new Supreme Court justice before November's election, but that in order to do so, the process has to work "pretty precisely."

The state of play: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the second Republican senator on Sunday to say she opposes voting on Trump's nomination before the election, joining Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Two more defections would likely force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote during the lame-duck session of Congress.

What he's saying: “This should take as long as it needs to take, but no longer," Blunt said. "There is plenty of time to get it done before Election Day, but everything has to work, I think, pretty precisely."

  • "Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated and confirmed in 40 days. Other justices have taken longer than that, and I don’t know how this process will move forward, but I do know that the Constitution prevails here in terms of how we do this."
  • Blunt added that "if the president nominates somebody who has already gone through this process once, that makes the process more speedy than it would be otherwise" — referencing Amy Coney Barrett, who is viewed as a front-runner.

The backdrop: Republicans stonewalled President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, claiming that voters should decide in the election who gets to appoint the next justice.

  • Blunt was one of many Republicans to say in 2016 that the Senate should wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after a new president was inaugurated.
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