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Schumer: Forcing Vote on Kennedy‘s Replacement Before the Midterms Would be ‘Absolute Height of Hypocrisy’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has called on his Republican colleagues to delay a vote on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement until after the midterm elections, suggesting that to do otherwise would be hypocritical considering their opposition to Barack Obama’s election-year nomination of Merrick Garland.

“Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016, not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Senator McConnell would tell anyone who would listen that the Senate had the right to advise and consent and that was every bit as important as the president’s right to nominate,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, hours after Kennedy announced his retirement.

“Millions of people are just months from determining the senators who will vote to reject or confirm the president’s nominee, and their voices deserve to be heard now as leader McConnell believed they deserved to be heard then. Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy,” he added.

Republicans refused to vote on Garland’s nomination in 2016, prompting an unprecedented 14-month vacancy on the Court. As Schumer pointed out, McConnell and his fellow Republicans argued then that voting on Garland’s confirmation ahead of an election would deprive the electorate of an opportunity to shape the Court.

It is not clear, however, how Democrats would block the vote should Republicans force the issue this fall, as McConnell has already suggested they will. Republicans hold a 51-vote majority in the Senate, which is sufficient to confirm a nominee due to a rule change, made last April, which lowered the nomination threshold from 60 votes to a simple majority.

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