Amid intense election year pressure on Republicans to back swift action on a Supreme Court vacancy created by the death last week of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Tuesday announced that he would support the President making a nomination, and the Senate then voting on that nominee, paving the way for GOP action.
“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee,” Romney said in a written statement.
The Utah Republican argued Senate precedent is clear, that a party which controls both the White House and Senate have moved ahead with Supreme Court nominations in a presidential election year.
The announcement from Romney - often a thorn in the side of President Donald Trump - all but guarantees that Republicans will have enough votes to move forward on a nominee to fill the seat of Justice Ginsburg, who died Friday.
Romney’s decision came as GOP Senators fell in line behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump, pressing ahead with plans to consider a Supreme Court nomination in the final weeks of the 2020 elections.
“President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate,” McConnell declared on Monday, belittling complaints from Democrats, who pointed out that Republicans had refused to act on a 2016 nominee from President Barack Obama.
“The U.S. Senate has never before confirmed a Supreme Court nominee this close to a presidential election,” countered Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
But with no option to filibuster the nomination - Republicans did away with that on Supreme Court nominees in 2017 - Democrats had to rely on GOP opposition to stop the President.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had said they oppose acting now on a nomination - but no others have joined them - leaving Democrats two votes short.
It’s still not clear when a vote in the Senate will occur.
White House officials indicate the President will make an announcement on a new Supreme Court nomination on Saturday.