U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Supreme Court vacancy:
“President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.
“Now, already, some of the same individuals who tried every conceivable dirty trick to obstruct Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh are lining up to proclaim the third time will be the charm.
“The American people are about to witness an astonishing parade of misrepresentations about the past… misstatements about the present… and more threats against our institutions from the same people who have already been saying for months that they want to pack the Court.
“Two years ago, a radical movement tried to use unproven accusations to ruin a man’s life because they could not win a vote fair and square. Now, they appear to be readying an even more appalling sequel. This time, the target will not just be the presumption of innocence for one American, but our very governing institutions themselves.
“There will be time in the days ahead to discuss the naked threats that leading Democrats have long been directing at the United States Senate and the Supreme Court itself. These threats may have grown louder now, but they predate this vacancy by many months.
“There will be time to discuss why Senators who appear on the steps of the Supreme Court and personally threaten Associate Justices if they do not rule a certain way are ill-equipped to give lectures on civics. But today, let’s dispense with a few of the factual misrepresentations, right from the outset.
“We are already hearing incorrect claims that there is not sufficient time to examine and confirm a nominee. We can debunk this myth in about 30 seconds.
“As of today, there are 43 days until November 3rd and 104 days until the end of this Congress.
“The late, iconic Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed by the Senate 19 days after this body formally received his nomination. Nineteen days from start to finish.
“Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, another iconic jurist, was confirmed 33 days after her nomination.
“For the late Justice Ginsburg herself, it was just 42 days.
“Justice Stevens’ entire confirmation process could have played out twice between now and November 3rd — with time to spare.
“And Justice Ginsburg herself could have been confirmed twice between now and the end of the year — with time to spare.
“The Senate has more than sufficient time to process a nomination.
“History and precedent make that perfectly clear.
“Others want to claim this situation is exactly analogous to Justice Scalia’s passing in 2016, and so we should not proceed until January.
“This is also completely false.
“Here is what I said on the Senate floor the very first session day after Justice Scalia passed. Quote: “The Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago.”
“Here is what I said the next day, when I spoke to the press for the first time on the subject: ‘[You] have to go back to 1888, when Grover Cleveland was president, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential-election year was approved by a Senate of a different party.’
“As of then, only six prior times in American history had a Supreme Court vacancy arisen in a presidential election year, and the President sent a nomination that year to a Senate of the opposite party.
“The majority of those times, the outcome was exactly what happened in 2016: No confirmation. The historically normal outcome in divided government.
“President Obama was asking Senate Republicans for an unusual favor that had last been granted nearly 130 years prior. But voters had explicitly elected our majority to check and balance the end of his presidency. So we stuck with the historical norm.
“And by the way, in so doing, our majority did precisely what Democrats had indicated they would do themselves.
“In 1992, Democrats controlled the Senate opposite President Bush 41. Then-Senator Joe Biden chaired the Judiciary Committee. Unprompted, he publicly declared that his committee might refuse to cooperate if a vacancy arose and the Republican president tried to fill it.
“In 2007, Democrats controlled the Senate opposite President Bush 43. And with more than a year left in the President’s term, the current Democratic Leader declared that ‘except in extraordinary circumstances,’ the opposite-party Senate should boycott any further confirmations to the Supreme Court.
“So in 2016, Senate Republicans did not only maintain the historical norm. We also ran the Biden-Schumer playbook.
“When voters have not chosen divided government, when the American people have elected a Senate majority to work closely with the sitting president, the historical record is even more overwhelming — in favor of confirmation.
“Eight such times in our nation’s history, new vacancies have arisen and presidents have made nominations, all during the election year.
“Seven of the eight were confirmed. And the sole exception, Justice Abe Fortas, was a bizarre situation including obvious personal corruption that extended into financial dealings.
“Apart from that one strange exception, no Senate has failed to confirm a nominee in the circumstances that face us now.
“The historical precedent is overwhelming and it runs in one direction. If our Democratic colleagues want to claim they are outraged, they can only be outraged at the plain facts of American history.
“There was clear precedent behind the predictable outcome that came out of 2016. And there is even more overwhelming precedent behind the fact that this Senate will vote on this nomination this year.
“The American people re-elected our majority in 2016 and strengthened it further in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump on the most critical issues facing our country. The federal judiciary was right at the top of that list.
“Ironically, it was the Democratic Leader who went out of his way to declare the 2018 midterms a referendum on the Senate’s handling of the Supreme Court.
“In his final speech before Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed, he yelled over and over at the American people to go vote! He told Americans to go elect Senators based on how they’d approached their advice-and-consent duties over those weeks.
“Unfortunately for him, many Americans did just that.
“After watching the Democrats’ tactics, voters grew our majority and retired four of our former colleagues who’d gone along with their party’s behavior.
“Perhaps more than any other single issue, the American people strengthened this Senate majority to keep confirming this President’s impressive judicial nominees who respect our Constitution and understand the proper role of a judge.
“In 2014, the voters elected our majority because we pledged to check and balance a second-term lame-duck President. Two years later, we kept our word.
“In 2018, the voters grew that majority on our pledge to continue working with President Trump, most especially on his outstanding judicial appointments.
“We are going to keep our word once again.
“We are going to vote on this nomination on this floor.”