McConnell tells Kentucky audience he’d confirm Supreme Court justice in election year

Mike Stunson
Lexington Herald-Leader

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would allow a vote to fill a Supreme Court vacancy if a justice dies in 2020, he told the Paducah Chamber of Commerce.

Three years ago, McConnell blocked a vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. He argued the winner of the presidential election should make the appointment.

On Tuesday, McConnell was asked in front of the Paducah Chamber of Commerce what he would do if a Supreme Court justice died in 2020. His answer, according to WPSD, is a reversal from his stance in 2016.

“Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell said.

He said judicial confirmations are permanent, unlike the 2017 GOP tax cuts.

“What can’t be undone is a lifetime appointment to a young man or woman who believes in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to follow the law,” McConnell said, according to WPSD’s livestream. “That’s the most important thing we’ve done for the country, which cannot be undone.”

Refusal: McConnell refused to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland in 2016. When Donald Trump took office, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the Court vacancy and it was approved.

The majority leader called his decision to block Garland’s nomination “the biggest decision I’ve made in my time in the Senate with the longest impact on the country,” according to a WPSD recording of McConnell’s comments Tuesday.

McConnell spokesman David Popp said that the Kentucky Republican is being consistent since he took care in 2016 to say that vacancies occurring when the White House and Senate are held by different parties should be held up, according to The Associated Press. The current situation involves the Senate and the White House being held by Republicans.

McConnell officially launched his U.S. Senate re-election campaign in April. He does not have a challenger yet.