Susan Collins says Trump can nominate a justice, but Senate vote should wait until after election
Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Saturday weighed in on the US Supreme Court vacancy, saying that she believes waiting until after the election is the right decision.Posted — Updated
"Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election," the Maine senator said in a Saturday statement.
"In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd," said Collins.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday night from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg's death now leaves a vacancy on the bench that top Senate Republicans view as an opportunity to boost their chances of holding the majority in November if their party makes a full-throated effort at confirming President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the upper chamber, only need 51 votes to confirm a new justice once one is formally nominated. Currently, there are 53 GOP senators -- meaning they can only lose three Republicans before Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday that whomever Trump nominates to replace Ginsburg will get a vote on the Senate floor, signaling a historic fight in Congress over one of the most polarizing issues in American politics.
In a message to GOP senators that same night, McConnell urged his colleagues not to lock themselves into a position and counseled them to be cautious about what they are telling the media about their views on how to process the nomination, according to a person who saw the note.
In her statement, Collins acknowledged Trump's authority to nominate a replacement and said she would not be opposed to the Senate Judiciary Committee starting the review process.
Collins, a four-term senator who is facing the toughest reelection campaign of her career, has refused to say whether she'll back Trump in November. Running for reelection in a state Trump narrowly lost in 2016, Collins is balancing the need to appeal to the President's base -- who she also needs to turn out for her -- against not further alienating moderate and independent voters.
Collins has already said that there is not enough time to confirm someone before November.
"In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently—no matter which political party is in power. President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee's beginning the process of reviewing his nominee's credentials," she said.
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