After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed oral arguments for the first time in her decades-long career on the Supreme Court, many have speculated that her time on the high court is drawing short — and that has leaders in Washington thinking ahead.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who now serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday that he is “hell-bent” on ensuring that any potential vacancies — whether created by Ginsburg’s retirement or not — on the court are filled by a conservative jurist.
“Hell-bent” on confirming a conservative
Wallace reported that the White House has already compiled a list of potential replacements to fill the next court vacancy, and, with a nod to the inevitable ideological fight over that nominee, asked Graham how he could prevent that fight from turning into a “political circus.”
In response, Graham referenced former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” that reduced the 60-vote threshold for confirming nominees to a mere simple majority, and reminded Democrats they have nobody but themselves to blame for that.
“Number one, I wish [Ginsburg] well and hope she recovers and continues to serve for many years, but here is what will happen if there is a vacancy, no matter if it’s from the liberal wing of the court: There’ll be a lot of push back from the left, but my Democratic colleagues felt when they were in charge that we should confirm judges by majority vote,” Graham said.
“They changed the rules to accommodate President Obama, they tried to stack the court, they never thought [Hillary] Clinton would lose, so what you’re gonna have is Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer’s desire to stack the court on their Democratic watch has come back to haunt them,” he continued.
“If there is an opening — whether it is Ginsburg or anybody else — I will urge the president to nominate a qualified conservative, and hopefully those people will get through.” Graham added. “And I expect it to be along party lines, and this is what happens when you change the rules.
“This has come back to bite them, I predicted it would, and we’ll see,” Graham went on. “I hope Justice Ginsburg serves for a long time, but if there is an opening on this court, I’m gonna be hell-bent to put a conservative to replace whoever steps down for whatever reason.”
Democrats can blame Harry Reid
Wallace went on to suggest that if Trump were to nominate a conservative to replace a liberal on the court, it would make the fight over the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh look like a “tea party.” Graham replied flatly: “They should have thought of that before they changed the rules.”
“They tried to destroy conservative judges. I voted for [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, understanding what I was getting, so this decision by Reid and Schumer may come back to haunt them, but I am dead set on making sure it is a conservative nominee,” Graham said.
“And elections have consequences,” Graham added, echoing an earlier tweet from President Donald Trump. “The rules of the Senate were changed — not by me, by them — and we had to do it on the Supreme Court because they would not give us any votes to nominate anybody. And Kavanaugh was a fine man, they tried to destroy him. All this is going to come back to haunt them one day.”
Sen. Graham has made it clear that he is “dead set” and “hell-bent” on ensuring that a conservative jurist fills any vacancies on the Supreme Court while he is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and based on his legislative history, there’s no reason to believe that he’ll be backing down any time soon.