This is what occurred when Senate Republicans refused to vote on Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court docket nomination

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Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell mentioned in a Friday evening assertion that President Donald Trump’s nominee to exchange Ginsburg will get a vote within the Senate. Doing so could be an entire reversal of his place in 2016, when the GOP-led Senate refused to carry a listening to or vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, saying it was too near the election.
Justice Antonin Scalia, who had been a conservative stalwart on the Supreme Court docket since being nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1986, died on February 13, 2016.

Inside hours — as different senators had been providing condolences to Scalia’s household — McConnell issued a shocking, categorical rejection of Obama’s authority greater than 11 months earlier than the Democrat’s substitute could be sworn into workplace.

“The American folks ought to have a voice within the number of their subsequent Supreme Court docket Justice. Subsequently, this emptiness shouldn’t be crammed till we’ve got a brand new president,” McConnell mentioned.

The ‘Biden rule’

Different main Republicans adopted McConnell’s lead. A cause they ceaselessly cited: What they referred to as the “Biden rule.” Joe Biden had mentioned in a 1992 Senate ground speech — when there have been no excessive courtroom vacancies to fill — that “as soon as the political season is underneath manner, and it’s, motion on a Supreme Court docket nomination should be postpone till after the election marketing campaign is over.”

McConnell by no means backtracked, regardless of Democrats’ hopes that he would face political stress to take action. On February 23, every week after Scalia’s loss of life and earlier than Obama had nominated his substitute, McConnell mentioned in a speech on the Senate ground that no Obama nominee would obtain a vote.

“Presidents have a proper to appoint, simply because the Senate has its constitutional proper to supply or withhold consent,” the Kentucky Republican mentioned. “On this case, the Senate will withhold it.”

GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that day signed a letter to McConnell saying they might refuse to carry hearings on any Scalia substitute till after a brand new president took workplace on January 20, 2017. Many Republicans cited the “Biden rule.”

Obama picks Garland

Within the ensuing weeks, Obama cast forward, ignoring Republicans’ insistence that no nominee would obtain a listening to or a vote and selected Garland on March 16. His calculation was {that a} long-time jurist — Garland, then 63, was the chief decide on the US Court docket of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — who was revered by each events and had been beforehand confirmed by the Senate could be troublesome to show away.

“I hope they’re truthful,” Obama mentioned of Senate Republicans within the Rose Backyard as he introduced Garland was his selection. “That is all. I hope they’re truthful.”

Republicans do not budge as Garland clock ticks

However Republicans didn’t budge, making clear on the day Garland was nominated that their place had not modified and he wouldn’t obtain a vote.

“I feel properly of Merrick Garland. I feel he’s a effective individual. However his nomination doesn’t in any manner change present circumstances,” then-Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch mentioned on the time.

By way of the summer time and fall, Senate Republicans continued to behave as if no Supreme Court docket emptiness existed and no nomination had been made. On July 20, Garland broke the 100-year-old report of 125 days for the longest hole between a Supreme Court docket nomination and affirmation.

Supreme Court docket exercise slowed drastically. The courtroom — conscious of potential 4-Four splits — was reluctant to tackle new instances.

Court docket turns into election flashpoint

The GOP’s refusal to behave on Obama’s nominee turned the Supreme Court docket right into a key political subject in November’s normal election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump on Could 19, 2016, launched an inventory of potential Supreme Court docket nominees — an inventory formed by conservative allies and geared toward soothe Republican voters’ considerations over whether or not he would nominate right-leaning judges. The promise of anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and anti-LGBTQ rights judges motivated spiritual conservatives who may need had misgivings about Trump’s character.

Lower than two weeks after taking workplace, on January 31, 2017, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s former seat on the Supreme Court docket. The Senate, the place Republicans maintained a majority after the 2016 election, confirmed Gorsuch lower than three months later, on April 7, 2017.

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