Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Wednesday at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Values Voter Summit that President Donald Trump has the constitutional authority to nominate a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and vowed that the hearing to vet the nominee would remain civil.
“Most of our value voters across the country will remember that moment in the [Justice Brett] Kavanaugh confirmation where you stood up and made an impassioned appeal for, literally, humanity and justice,” FRC President Tony Perkins said during his interview with Graham.
“What type of battle do you anticipate given what we’ve seen with Kavanaugh — I mean, which was unprecedented, what we saw — what do you anticipate in the next few weeks?” Perkins asked Graham.
“We’re going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Graham said. “A challenging hearing is appropriate because this is a lifetime appointment.”
“What happened in Kavanaugh was despicable and should never happen again,” Graham said.
“One thing I can promise members here and people listening is that we will start. We’ll be firm and we’ll be fair, and we will make sure the nominee is tested but not abused,” Graham said during the interview.
Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in charge of vetting and approving Supreme Court justices, pushed back on the narrative from the left that form President Barack Obama was denied a confirmation hearing for his justice nomination in the months leading up the 2016 election but Republicans want to get a nomination confirmed with less than two months away.
The difference in the two scenarios is that Republicans controlled the Senate in 2016, making Obama a “lame duck” president. Trump, however, has a Republican-controlled Senate, which means the confirmation process is not only constitutional but has precedent.
“It’s a constitutional process,” Graham said. “Every president has the right to pick replacements for the Supreme Court, to nominate judges when there are vacancies, and he will do that.”
“History as a guide, there have been 19 Supreme Court nominations in an election year, Tony, where the president and the Senate were the same party,” Graham said. “Seventeen of the 19 were confirmed. This will be the 20th.”
“When the president is of one party and the Senate of another, there’s only been two Supreme Court vacancies filled in the history of the country,” Graham said. “So we’re operating within norms.”
Graham said after Trump names his nominee, the process will get underway.
“Saturday the announcement will come,” Graham said. “It will be a qualified woman — a well-qualified and historically qualified woman.”
“I’ll lay out the schedule after the announcement, but the goal is to process the nomination, get it to the floor so that Mitch McConnell, if he chooses, can move forward before the election,” Graham said.
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