Republicans went on the offense Monday as both parties gear up for what is expected to be a contentious Supreme Court confirmation showdown just weeks ahead of the election, releasing an ad featuring Democrats essentially dismantling their current arguments with their own words.
“Not long ago, Joe Biden said that ‘the American people deserve a fully-staffed court of nine.’ We agree. Fill the seat!” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, alongside a montage of Democrats arguing for the Senate to move forward with holding hearings for Merrick Garland in 2016.
“The president nominates and then the Senate advises and consents or not, but they go forward with the process,” former Trump challenger Hillary Clinton said in the montage.
It also features House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said in 2016 that the American people were witnessing “disrespect to the Constitution” and called for a “fair” and “timely” hearing:
Not long ago, Joe Biden said that “the American people deserve a fully-staffed court of nine.”
Fill the seat! pic.twitter.com/K8GpnAMEly
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) September 21, 2020
“The Constitution is 100 percent clear,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in the mashup. “The President of the United States has the right to nominate someone to be a justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate’s function is to hold hearings and to vote.”
“You cannot keep a seat on the Supreme Court, which represents all of us. You cannot keep it vacant against the Constitution,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said.
At the time, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said the GOP was doing “pretty much everything they can to avoid acknowledging the legitimacy of our democratically elected president.”
“If you want to stop extremism in your party, you could start by showing the American people that you respect the President of the United States and the Constitution,” she added.
The montage ends on Biden, who famously said the American people “deserve a fully-staffed court of nine.”
“2020 Democrats should listen to 2016 Democrats,” the GOP concluded.
“Those are Joe Biden’s words, and we agree,” RNC Rapid Response Director Steve Guest said in a statement. “As precedent and Democrats’ own words dictate, President Trump has an obligation to fill the vacancy without delay.”
The Senate’s GOP leaders have indicated they will proceed with confirmation hearings for President Trump’s forthcoming nominee prior to the election. Democrats immediately pushed back, citing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final wish to “not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
While it is true that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) based his decision to refrain from holding hearings for Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, GOP leaders maintain that the current situation is different than the conundrum they faced in 2016.
“If you look at history, if you actually look at what the precedent is, this has happened 29 times,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during Sunday’s appearance on ABC’s This Week.
“Twenty-nine times, there has been a vacancy in a presidential election year. Now, presidents have made nominations all 29 times. That’s what presidents do. If there’s a vacancy, they make a nomination. What has the Senate done?” he posed, explaining the distinct difference in how the Senate has handled the process in instances where the majority represented a different party than that of the executive branch:
And there’s a big difference in the Senate with whether the Senate is of the same party of the president or a different party of the president. When the Senate has been of the same party of the president, and a vacancy occurs in an election year, of the 29 times, those are 19 of them. Of those 19, the Senate has confirmed those nominees 17 times. So if the parties are the same, the Senate confirms the nominee. When the parties are different, that’s happened ten times. Merrick Garland was one of them. Of those ten, the Senate has confirmed the nominees only twice. And — and there’s a reason for that. It’s not just simply your party, my party. The reason is it’s — it’s a question of checks and balances. In order for a Supreme Court nomination to go forward, you have to have the president and the Senate. In this instance, the American people voted. They elected Donald Trump. A big part of the reason they elected Donald Trump is because of the Scalia vacancy, and they wanted principled constitutionalists on the court.
President Trump is expected to announce his nomination this week, and he stated his belief that the Senate should vote prior to the election.
“We won the election, we have the right to do it, so we have plenty of time,” he told Fox & Friends on Monday. “We have a lot of time.”