Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues on Monday he has a "different view" of the judicial confirmation process "after the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh" during his 2018 confirmation fight.

Why it matters: Graham opposed holding a vote President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, arguing that voters should get to decide in the next election who is appointed to the court.

  • “I want you to use my words against me," Graham said at the time. "If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination."
  • He repeated in an Oct. 3, 2018 interview with The Atlantic: "If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term and the primary process has started, we'll wait until the next election. ... Hold the tape."

Yes, but: Graham argued that circumstances have changed since the Scalia vacancy because the Republican-controlled Senate at the time had been elected because it "committed to checking and balancing the end of President Obama's lame duck presidency."

  • The current Republican majority, which expanded after the 2018 midterm elections, has "committed to confirming President Trump's excellent judicial nominees," Graham wrote.
  • "We followed the precedent that the Senate has followed for 140 years: since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president's Supreme Court nominee during an election year."
  • Graham added: "[A]fter the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh, I now have a different view of the Supreme Court nomination process. ... [I]t's clear that there already is one set of rules for a Republican president and one set of rules for a Democrat president."

Go deeper

Schumer: Coney Barrett vote "one of the darkest days" in Senate history

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday "will go down as one of the darkest days" in Senate history, moments before the chamber voted 52-48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The bottom line: Schumer said his Republican colleagues "decided to thwart the will of the people" by holding the vote eight days ahead of the presidential election, despite opposing President Obama's nominee because it was an election year.

McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.

Oct 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett before a meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 21. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 52-48 on Monday to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She is expected to be sworn in within hours.

Why it matters: President Trump and Senate Republicans have succeeded in confirming a third conservative justice in just four years, tilting the balance of the Supreme Court firmly to the right for perhaps a generation.